Health Information Management Students Today

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Hello everyone:   Pardon the quiet the last couple of weeks! I took some time off to enjoy the beautiful Pennsylvania Autumn with hubby and then was off to New Orleans for the MGMA convention – more on that later! A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of University of Pittsburgh HIM students about what we do at M*Modal and about our perspective on the health information landscape.  I had such a great time!

There was a range of experience there – from students new to the program to final year grad students. But what has been striking me as I’ve talked with these students is how different they are from the students (including me) who took HIM classes back in the days when HIM was called “medical records.”  Not that the students then weren’t as passionate about the subject as they are now, but HIM is now a more technical focus and seems to be attracting students with more technical interests and backgrounds. Or are students in general these days just more technical? As someone who started in medical records when it was all paper, all the time, much of it typed on the old IBM Selectric – it’s hard for me to say for sure.  🙂 It certainly seems as though there are quite a few more young men entering the HIM profession than there used to be – I suspect because of the increased technology focus, though I don’t have any statistics in front of me to support that.

But how exciting are today’s HIM programs and these students?  What better combination of skills could we want in any health information professional than a knowledge of the language of medicine, an understanding of the workings of the healthcare provider organization, knowledge of documentation requirements from a variety of perspectives from patient care to reimbursement to analysis and statistics to medico-legal purposes, IN ADDITION to knowledge of health information systems from a technical perspective?

My only concern is…it seems as though many of today’s HIM students (and I can’t speak for all of them of course!) don’t really want to work in a hospital after graduation. Many of them have hopes of working for an EMR or other HIT company.  I work for a technology company of course – but I hope some of the students reconsider and will spend some time working for a healthcare provider.  Even if the ultimate goal is to work in technology, gaining experience in actual HIM departments, in the trenches where the action really happens, could be invaluable. How better to understand what technology should do, and how it should function, than to have a background as an actual user? To know firsthand about the gaps that sometimes exist between systems and how users actually use them? To understand the pain points and the needs of working HIM professionals and other consumers of health information? And with the increased focus on using health information to provide data for analysis of outcomes and to support evidence-based healthcare, HIM departments may well become one of the most innovative places to be in a hospital!

Some of the Pitt HIM students are going to be doing projects and internships with us here at M*Modal beginning this week, and we can’t wait! It is of course really exciting for us to talk to the students about what we do and to have them work with us – but more importantly – we appreciate having the opportunity to learn from them about what HIM programs are talking about today.

I’ll be sure to share what we learn!

Til next time,


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