(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Health information technology enables people to work wherever they want to do their part to keep patients’ health care records organized.
Beyda Ramirez, an instructor in Texas State Technical College’s Health Information Technology program in Harlingen, said graduates do more than handle billing and coding. They also maintain the accuracy of electronic medical records and work with medical facilities’ clinical documentation improvement plans.
“The medical field is always updating and evolving and changing — and with us even more so, because we deal with data,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez said interest in the medical field will help students succeed in the program.
“A lot of the students want to stay in the Rio Grande Valley,” she said. “We have students that have left for another city or state. Sometimes we have those students call us and say they have a job opening.”
Linda Gonzalez is a graduate of TSTC’s Health Information Technology program and is currently the marketing director of health information management at the Valley Baptist Health System. She leads her staff in all stages of electronic medical record keeping, including processing birth certificates. The work involves having staff available for both day and evening work.
Gonzalez said when working to fill vacant jobs, previous experience with medical records is beneficial. Valley Baptist, which has facilities in Brownsville, Harlingen, and Weslaco, has hired several TSTC graduates.
“As things have progressed, you don’t really have time for on-the-job training,” she said.
Gonzalez said people who handle medical coding have worked remotely for the last few years. The pandemic has changed where some staff members work, with some not even being in the Valley.
Gonzalez said pursuing health information technology is a great career option.
“There’s always going to be job security,” she said. “You will always need individuals to review the account and process for billing. That is a market I see that is very promising for any individual.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website, medical records specialists and health information technicians make a yearly median salary of more than $39,000 in Texas. Cameron and Hidalgo counties have more than 1,100 workers.
According to onetonline.org, the state will employ more than 20,000 medical records specialists and health technicians by 2028.
TSTC offers a Medical Office Specialist certificate and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Health Information Technology online. Students must complete the certificate first and meet grade requirements to move into the associate degree program, Ramirez said. The Health Information Technology program is backed by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management.
Registration continues for the fall, with scholarships available. For more information, go to tstc.edu.