Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Health Information Management: Charter Oak's first major

After two years of research and planning, we were thrilled to have launched our first major, an online Bachelor of Science degree in Health Information Management (HIM), on September 27. Just three days later, members of our admissions team took part in one of the largest HIM conferences in the country, the AHIMA 2012 Conference in Chicago.  Over 4,000 participants attend this conference, which is organized by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and is the largest of its type in the country.

Making the choice to offer a degree in this fast-growing field was a big decision for us, and one we think will pay off in big way for our students, both in their career trajectories and their salaries. Let’s step back for a minute and talk about how we got here.

Over the past 15 years, we noticed that our students were arriving at Charter Oak with fewer transfer credits. This means that they had enough course work ahead of them to complete a degree in a particular area (a major) as opposed to a General Studies degree (with a concentration). We realized our students didn’t just want to complete their bachelor’s degree as fast as they could; they wanted to complete their bachelor’s in a discipline that would get them a job in an emerging industry.

So we did our homework, and found that the Health Information Management (HIM) is one of the 20 fastest growing occupations in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with an average annual salary of $57,370, according to AHIMA. We knew this was an excellent next step for Charter Oak.

Our HIM program was developed by experts to equip students for the electronic management of sensitive patient health information and healthcare organization revenue cycles. Once approved by the Commission on Accreditation for the Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM), this degree will prepare our graduates to sit for the AHIMA Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) licensure exam, and we will measure our success by the pass rate of our graduates.

Our foray into the world of HIM has been greeted with great enthusiasm by the health and insurance companies in Connecticut. In our Health Information Management video, you will hear from Cynthia Pugliese, Hartford HealthCare Director of Health Information Management, who is very passionate about this field. We also had a great reception by many in the healthcare industry while at the AHIMA conference in Chicago, and hope to draw students from across the country. Conference participants were also impressed by the affordability of our HIM program, an extremely important factor to students finishing their degrees in this economy.

If you are already a matriculated Charter Oak student interested in exploring this degree program, I encourage you to call your advisor. If you have friends or relatives who are looking to enter the dynamic new field of HIM, please have them call Moses Adgers (860-515-3832) in our Admissions office.

I will keep you posted on our progress with our HIM program. We consider it an important part of our work to continue creating new and cutting-edge online workforce-focused degree programs here at Charter Oak. As you have heard us say before, “We are a dynamic community of online learners advancing the nation's workforce one graduate at a time.”

I would love to hear your feedback about our HIM program, so please share in comments.