Job Profile: Medical Records Coordinator

Healthcare providers depend on electronic and paper medical records to obtain valuable patient data for making their diagnosis decisions. Medical records coordinators are senior-level health administrators who oversee the processing of health information in various clinical settings. Medical records coordinators play a vital role in making certain that patient data is being compiled, updated, and organized accurately in compliance with regulations. It’s their duty to make medical information accessible to physicians and nurses while preserving each patient’s privacy. Hospitals, physician offices, clinics, managed care organizations, outpatient centers, nursing homes, and other health facilities employ medical records coordinators for supervising information management. Medical records coordinators also maintain quality database systems to ensure patient information is filed for proper insurance billing.

Salary

According to the employment statistics on Salary.com, the median annual salary for medical records coordinators and managers in the United States is $83,267. This could be equated to a mean hourly wage of $40 or weekly income of $1,601. In addition to the base salary, medical records coordinators usually receive bonuses, social security, healthcare insurance, pensions, and time off for a total average compensation of $116,143 each year.

Beginning Salary

When just moving into the role of medical records coordinator, you’ll likely land in the bottom tenth percentile of earnings with a yearly wage around $61,337. However, it’s important to remember that senior medical records coordinators can bring home handsome six-figure base salaries upwards of $108,494 annually.

Key Responsibilities

Medical records coordinators have significant responsibility in managing the overall health records function of their healthcare organization with accuracy and security. Medical records coordinators must guarantee that confidential patient data is filed appropriately based on JCAHO standards. As supervisors, medical records coordinators must oversee the work of health information technicians, coding specialists, cancer registrars, and medical secretaries. Coordinators will handle hiring, training, and evaluating personnel in the medical information department. Bookkeeping, purchasing, and budget planning may be required. Some medical records coordinators may collect data for conducting medical research too.

Necessary Skills

Before becoming a medical records coordinator, you’ll need to sharpen your technical skills for using advanced classification software that keeps electronic health records accurate. Being a skilled communicator with great interpersonal skills is important for discussing patient data and system errors with physicians. Medical records coordinators should have the leadership skills to provide direction and motivation to technicians under their supervision. Good organizational skills with a keen attention to detail is crucial for coordinators to locate discrepancies fast. Medical records coordinators should have the analytical and critical thinking skills to resolve any patient information issues. Integrity and honesty is also a must for medical records coordinators to exercise caution with confidential records.

Degree and Education Requirements

Medical records coordinators are required to hold at least a four-year bachelor’s degree before progressing into this role. Most aspiring medical records coordinators pursue an undergraduate major in health information management, healthcare administration, health informatics, or information systems. Attending a program accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) will be valuable. Fill up your schedule with courses in medical law, ethics, patient confidentiality, statistics, coding, medical terminology, pathophysiology, administration, and insurance reimbursement. Going the extra mile to obtain a Master of Health Administration (MHA) could expedite promotion and further develop leadership potential.

Pros and Cons of the Position

Like any other career, medical records coordinators deal with a balance of rewards and challenges that you should weigh before picking this job. Medical records coordinators are in high demand, so career prospects should remain bright for the foreseeable future. Medical records coordinators can select from numerous practice settings based on their interests. They have the ability to truly improve patient outcomes without directly interacting with patients at the bedside. Salaries for medical records coordinators are very high with great benefits. On the other hand, medical records coordinators often need to invest in years of post-secondary schooling and continuing education. Technical expertise is required to manage the intricacies of computer information systems and stave off worrisome cyber attacks. Medical records coordinators need to continually keep up with changing legislation. Long, irregular hours beyond the 40-hour work week are also common.

Getting Started

While earning your education, it’s best to get the ball rolling quickly by developing a resume filled with experience in health information management. Talk to your university’s Career Services about internship, practicum, and co-operative learning experiences available in local healthcare facilities. Most medical records coordinators need at least five years of experience before taking on this role. It’s likely you’ll have to work up from entry-level medical record technician or filing clerk positions. If you’re planning to work in a nursing home or long-term care center, most states will require that you hold specialized licensing. Receiving professional certification from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is also advised. With a bachelor’s degree and passing exam score, you can earn the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) designation. Becoming a Certified Documentation Improvement Practitioner (CDIP) is also wise.

Future Outlook

As our nation’s large population of baby boomers ages, it’s expected that the American healthcare system will be completing more medical tests, treatments, and procedures. All of the patient data must be correctly filed in electronic health records for insurance reimbursement claims. Medical records coordinators will be in demand for keeping this healthcare information organized and secure. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in medical records will be growing rapidly by 22 percent through 2022, thus creating around 41,100 openings. That said, competition remains strong for administrative roles like medical record coordinator. You’ll likely realize the most favorable job prospects with RHIA credentials in medical group practices, nursing homes, residential care, home health services, and ambulatory care settings.

Overall, medical records coordinators are upper-level experts in administering computer systems that accurately organize health information electronically. Coordinators oversee the day-to-day operations of personnel working in a facility’s medical records unit. Medical records coordinators help healthcare professional carry out effective treatment plans by making certain that patient histories are processed appropriately. Although you’ll have to invest in continual training and gather years of experience, being a medical records coordinator can pay off with the reward of improving patient care.