3 Major Differences Between Health Information Technology and Healthcare Administration

Differences Between Health Information Technology and Healthcare Administration

  • Job Titles
  • Education and Certification Requirements
  • Typical Job Responsibilities
Health information technology
Image source: Flickr, Creative Commons license.

Healthcare is one of the most rapidly growing industries in the United States, so it’s no wonder so many candidates are working to prepare themselves for a career in this flourishing field. Because healthcare roles are so varied, it’s not only careers that require advanced education in medicine or nursing that are attracting students to healthcare degree programs.

Health information technology and healthcare administration both serve important, though indirect, roles in patient care and within the healthcare industry, but don’t let the similar degree titles confuse you. A few major differences distinguish the fields from one another.

1. Job Titles

If you study health information technology or health informatics, you can seek the credentials to become a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT), an in-demand professional who handles the creation, security and retrieval of patient information. Other job titles in this discipline, according to the Occupational Information Network’s O*NET database, include:

  • Health information specialist
  • Health information technician
  • Medical records analyst
  • Medical records coordinator
  • Medical records director
  • Medical records technician

On the other hand, if you train for a career in healthcare administration, you’ll likely start with an opportunity like medical secretary. The O*NET database reports that other job titles common in healthcare administration include:

  • Ward clerk
  • Admissions coordinator
  • Billing coordinator
  • Health Unit Coordinator
  • Patient coordinator
  • Unit Secretary
  • Medical Office Specialist
  • Physician Office Specialist
  • Unit Support Representative

Regardless of job title, you will be expected to have the administrative skills necessary to support the operations of a hospital, doctor’s office or other medical facility.

2. Education and Certification Requirements

You can earn a degree in both health information technology and healthcare administration, but what kind of entry-level education and training you will need depends on which career path you pursue.

To stand out from the competition in the field of health information technology, you will likely want to seek a certification like the RHIT credential. To reach this goal, you will need at least an associate’s degree. However, you can also find health information technology or health informatics degree programs at the bachelor’s and even master’s level.

You don’t need a special certification to become a medical secretary, Rasmussen College reported. You do, however, need knowledge specific to the healthcare field to fulfill your job duties successfully. Most medical secretaries earn a diploma or degree in healthcare administration to prepare for their careers.

3. Typical Job Responsibilities

If you’re skilled at using computer software and at gathering, coding, processing and reporting information, health information technology might be the career path for you.

If your abilities instead lie more along the lines of overseeing the front office, scheduling appointments and handling office equipment and communications, healthcare administration might be a better choice.

Both careers are growing quickly and allow you to break into the healthcare industry without first spending years upon years in school just to get that initial entry-level job.

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