Health Information Management Professionals

Also Known As
Health Information Management Practitioners Health Information Management Technicians
Health Records Techs Medical Records Techs

What are the roles of health information management professionals in Canada?

Health information management professionals provide services in all aspects of clinical records management. This includes data collection, coding, use, integrity, access, disclosure, retention and disposal of health information.

They analyze quantitative and qualitative information to help facilitate health care delivery, patient safety and health, and decision making within and across organizations. For example, health statistics are used to provide information about complex decisions ranging from how to improve patient care to how to allocate resources.

Emerging specializations:

Health organizations are currently changing from paper to electronic health records. As a result, new career specializations are emerging in a variety of areas related to health information, including the following:

What are the main duties of health information management professionals in Canada?

  • transfer information from paper documents to electronic records
  • standardize a patient’s diagnostic and intervention information using a recognized classification system
  • make sure that every patient’s record is complete, accurate, and secure yet readily accessible for appropriate release
  • identify and perform appropriate data quality checks to make sure records and databases are accurate
  • protect and release patient information according to government health information laws
  • collect additional information about patients to generate data about the patient population
  • use a computer to organize, collect, sort, group, retrieve, analyze, and present health data in ways that are useful for planning, research, and education

What are the desired traits of health information management professionals in Canada?

Health information management professionals should:

  • be mature and responsible
  • be analytical
  • be honest, trustworthy, and respectful of confidential information
  • pay attention to detail, organization and accuracy
  • be able to work well under pressure and meet deadlines
  • be able to exercise independent judgment
  • have good interpersonal skills
  • be able to work independently and as part of a team
  • enjoy being methodical when collecting and sorting information and participating in data quality activities
  • enjoy using information retrieval systems and answering requests for information
  • be committed to lifelong learning and professional development

Where do health information management professionals work?

Typical employers include:

  • hospitals, within the departments of:
    • admitting
    • health records/information services
    • information systems
    • quality management
    • research and statistics
    • risk management
    • utilization management
  • community health centres
  • health records consulting firms
  • nursing homes and long-term care facilities
  • pharmaceutical companies
  • primary care givers, for example, family physicians, mental health care providers
  • educational institutions
  • government agencies, for example, ministries of health, research centres
  • health agencies, for example, Canadian Institute of Health Information, World Health Organization
  • insurance companies
  • law offices

Other employers include:

  • computer companies
  • correctional centres
  • veterinary hospitals
  • workplace health and safety boards

What might the typical work conditions be?

Health information management professionals may work full-time or part-time or on a casual basis. They can work in positions that are permanent, temporary, or casual depending on department and facility needs. Schedules may include a combination of day, evening, night, weekend, and holiday shifts, and sometimes on-call duty.

Health information management professionals work with a combination of paper and electronic health records, so they must use a computer and sit for long periods of time. This job can require individuals to do repetitive tasks and motions, like data entry and manually indexing health information.

What qualifications are Canadian employers looking for?

Employers want to hire people with skills and knowledge related to:

  • biomedical sciences (anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology)
  • information sciences and technology
  • the health care system in Canada
  • laws and rules about information security and access
  • standardized classification systems and technologies
  • clinical data integration and management
  • information analysis and presentation
  • ethics and practice

Individuals can gain the necessary skills and knowledge by taking a program accredited by the   Canadian Health Information Management Association (CHIMA) at a post-secondary institution or by taking a distance education program. Individuals with related education and work experience should ask about prior learning recognition.

These programs take two to four years to finish depending on the type selected. After completing education, individuals are qualified to write the national examination to become certified by the Canadian Health Information Management Association (CHIMA). To keep their certification, health information management professionals must participate in ongoing professional development for continuing professional education credits.

What communication skills do employers expect?

Employers want to hire people with excellent oral and written communication skills, including report writing and knowledge of medical terminology. Health information management professionals use their communication skills to work with doctors, nurses, allied health care professionals, management, and administrative staff to make sure that patient information is managed properly. The ability to speak and write in multiple languages can be an advantage in Canada’s multicultural environment.

Employers also look for people with strong computer skills including:

  • word processing, Internet, e-mail, presentation programs, spreadsheet manipulation, and database knowledge
  • custom health programs, system management, large client databases, office management, and statistical analysis software
  • Research design and manipulation—using computer technologies to capture, manage, and analyze data

What is the wage for this occupation?

Wages are affected by the workers’ level of education, work experience, and job responsibilities, plus the job location, work conditions, and whether the workforce is unionized or not.

Salary information is not available for this occupation at a national level, but averages for low and high wages (before taxes) are available from two provinces:

Province Low High
Alberta $26/hour or $54,000/year $32/hour or $66,560/year
Ontario $20/hour or $41,600/year $32/hour or $66,560/year

What opportunities for advancement are available to health information management professionals?

It is possible to advance to supervisory positions with experience. Advancement to management positions and specializations is possible with additional training and experience.

The skills gained as a health information management professional can be applied in a variety of senior roles, including:

  • chief information officer
  • client service manager
  • consultant
  • data quality manager
  • decision support analyst
  • director of information services
  • documentation coordinator
  • patient advocate
  • project manager
  • research associate
  • utilization manager

Where can I find out more about health information management professionals in Canada?

For general career information and job search ideas, refer to the Introductory Page.

More details about health information management professionals and the health industry are available from the following organizations:

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) works with interested users across Canada to improve the health system’s use of electronic health data. It works with the Canada Health Infoway and other organizations to improve patient experiences, support front-line care providers, and build a better health system using knowledge.

Canada Health Infoway has many documents and links which are useful in understanding the health data standards landscape. Infoway works by investing money (provided by the federal government) and working with provinces and territories to improve health care through information technology.

Canadian Health Information Management Association (CHIMA) represents approximately 5,000 health information management professionals across Canada and is the certifying body and national association. Together with the Canadian College of Health Information Management (CCHIM), CHIMA sets standards by which health information management education programs are evaluated to make sure students are prepared to meet the national standards for becoming certified professionals. For a listing of schools that have accredited health information management (HIM) programs, click here.

Check out CHIMA’s Workforce Transformation project report that maps the development of the new roles caused by the move to electronic health records. The report describes the clusters of competency profiles and the new role descriptions that were developed with the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) and Alberta Health Services (AHS).

COACH: Canada’s Health Informatics Association connects a diverse community of talented, important professionals who work passionately to make a difference in advancing health care through information technology. The field of health informatics (HI) is the intersection of clinical, IM/IT, and management practices and is helping to modernize healthcare.

Many health jobs in Canada are with provincial and territorial government health services. Some of the provincial organizations that post job openings or career opportunities are listed below:

Note: These websites tend to change frequently.