Health Information Technology

Health information technology (HIT) brings together medicine, computer technology and information management to provide structured information management to health care. If you want to learn a diverse set of skills and make a difference in the lives of patients and their care providers, a career in health information technology is for you.

An HIT professional is trained to work in all aspects of health information management. You will learn the computer skills to move into the electronic health information era. The program also includes knowing all the laws and regulations that apply to the release and management of health information. You learn procedures for health record processing, detailed medical coding with ICD-10-CM/PCS and CPT, reimbursement methodologies, and compliance issues, management of health information, and quality improvement.

Job opportunities exist in hospitals, ambulatory care, long-term care, cancer registries, managed care, and physician practices, as well as non-traditional areas in professional organizations, legal offices, industry vendors, insurance companies and pharmaceutical firms. Anywhere health information is used can become a job opportunity for the credentialed HIT profession.

The degree and certificates offered at Oakton are designed to prepare you for a variety of entry-level positions in health care. You can play an important role in an industry that offers meaningful work, good pay and the opportunity to keep learning and advancing.

Degree and Certificates

Oakton offers an associate in applied science (A.A.S.) in health information technology for students who wish to start a career in health information management or pursue an advanced degree at a four-year college or university. If you plan to pursue a four-year degree, consult the Office of Advising, Transitions and Student Success, as well as the transfer institution's catalog. This will help you select courses that will meet both Oakton's and your transfer school's requirements.

Associate in Applied Science in Health Information Technology prepares graduates for positions in health information management, clinical data specialist, medical coding, record processing, quality improvement, utilization management and reimbursement in the prospective payment system.

Learn More

This curriculum prepares students for billing positions in physician offices and billing offices. Students take courses in computing, insurance procedures, CPT, ICD-10-CM coding, and medical terminology. Students must receive a minimum grade of C in all courses.

Medical Coding and Billing Certificate

Cancer Registry Management is an advanced certificate program designed for individuals interested in data collection, management and research with the outcome of improving lives through quality cancer data management.

Learn More

Student Outcomes

91% Graduation Rate
64% Retention Rate
70% Employment Rate
80% RHIT Exam Results

Timeframe for student outcomes: 08/01/2020 to 07/31/2021

Definitions

  • Graduation rate – the percentage of a school's first-time, first-year undergraduate students who complete their program within 150% of the published time for the program.
  • Employment rate – the percentage of graduates from a program who are employed in healthcare within 8 months of graduation.
  • Retention rate – the percentage of a school's first-time, first-year undergraduate students who continue at that school the next year.
  • RHIT exam pass rate – the percentage of students who tested and passed the applicable certification exam for the program.

What You Need to Know

Associate of Applied Science Degree

Minimum Requirements (A.A.S.)

  • Graduation from an accredited high school or General Education Development (GED) certification. Foreign high school graduates or students with foreign college credits need to send English-translated copies of their transcripts to Educational Perspectives. Students with foreign college credit should request a catalog match.
  • HIT 104 with a grade of C or better within the last two years.
  • HIT 105 with a grade of C or better within the last two years.
  • Completion of one year of high school biology or one semester of college biology or equivalent with a minimum grade of C within the last five years.
  • MAT 085 or MAT 095 (formerly MAT 110) with a minimum grade of C or placement into MAT 085 or MAT 095.
  • College-level reading and entry-level competency for EGL 101 as demonstrated by coursework or assessment. If applicants do not have EGL 101 or equivalent, completion of Oakton English assessment tests are required.

Other Requirements (A.A.S.)

  • Proof of health insurance and current complete physical.
  • Meet essential skills which include physical, communicative/cognitive, emotional/psychological criteria.
  • Interview with and consent of HIT Faculty. 

We also recommend that you view an Information Session video below prior to applying.

  1. New students should apply online at oakton.edu/apply. Current Oakton students should apply through their myOakton account.
  2. View your Admission Checklist. Your New Student Portal includes Admission Checklist and next steps.
  3. Submit admission documents, including transcripts (high school, college, AP, military) and proof of residency.
  4. Complete the minimum requirements for admission.
  5. Complete an interview. The application process must be completed prior to an interview.

Clinical placements require a health assessment, certain immunizations, yearly flu vaccine, substance abuse testing, criminal background check, specific skill certification (i.e., CPR) and health insurance. These requirements represent an additional cost to the student.

All Oakton Community College Health Career students in nursing, physical therapist assistant, medical laboratory technology, pharmacy technician, phlebotomy, health information technology, cancer registry management, and medical assistant programs must have "clear" criminal background checks and drug screens in order to participate in any and all clinical components of any health career program courses. See the career programs pages for further details.

To comply with state statutes and clinical affiliation agreements, and to provide a safe environment for students, employees, and patients cared for by students, those accepted into Oakton's health career programs will be required to complete a criminal background check and drug screening through a company contracted by the College. Health Career students will be charged a fee for this service.

Timelines for completing criminal background checks and drug screens may vary among the various programs. Deadline dates for each program will be provided by the individual department chairs at the time of a student's acceptance into a health career program.

Students without a clear criminal background check and/or clear drug screen will not be allowed to enroll in clinical practicum courses or attend clinical programs. This would further necessitate that the student withdraw from the health career program at that time.

Students who refuse a criminal background check and/or drug screen will not be considered "clear" and will not be authorized to participate in the clinical component of the health career program, necessitating withdrawal from the program at that time.

Individual results of student background checks and drug screens are considered confidential.

Determination of whether or not a student can participate in the clinical component of a particular health career program will be communicated to the respective department chairs by the Background Check/Drug Screen vendor. Students may view their personal results on the vendor's website.

Essential Skills Expected of a Health Information Technician, Medical Coder and Biller, and Cancer Tumor Registrar.
Successful completion of the HIT and CRM programs requires the student to participate in and satisfy the Professional Practice Experience (PPE) portion of the program. Students attend a variety of PPE settings including but not limited to hospitals, long term care centers, ambulatory settings, specialty treatment facilities, and managed care facilities. Participation in the PPE requires essential skills that allow the student to perform successfully. Students may be expected to perform satisfactorily in the following domains:

Physical
The student should be able to:

  • View computer screens for long periods of time.
  • Use keyboard or input devices to enter data into computer.
  • Have good hand-eye coordination skills to enter data, answer phones, and write.
  • Lift light objects such as medical records and code books and push carts loaded with records.
  • Spend long periods of time sitting.
  • Hear adequately enough to permit contact with patients, physicians and other employees.

Cognitive
The student should be able to:

  • Demonstrate the interpersonal skills necessary to regularly interact effectively with patients, families, physicians, co-workers and other facility personnel.  
  • Conduct extended inter-personal professional conversations and dialogues, as well as participate in extensive collaborative and team discussions and project work.
  • Demonstrate the organizational and time management skills necessary to carry out multiple functions on a daily basis.
  • Follow job related logical thought processes to make judgments. Take initiative and work independently, yet recognize self-limitations. Regularly accept guidance and supervision from superiors.
  • Demonstrate prolonged concentration skills in activities like coding and abstracting.
  • Apply numeric logic and analytical skills in interpretation and presentation of data.
  • Accurately interpret reading material, spell accurately and regularly communicate health information in written and verbal format.

Emotional/Psychological
The student should be able to:

  • Cope in an appropriate manner to common job related stressful situations.
  • Articulate ideas and communicate information clearly in verbal, written, and digital formats.
  • Exhibit flexibility in response to shifting priorities.
  • Display a courteous and professional manner through interaction, appearance, and attitude.
  • Keep confidential material confidential.
  • Meet the ethical standards of the profession.

The above statements were derived in part from job descriptions and work expectations from various employers of health information technicians and from guidance from AHIMA for the HIT A.A.S., and NCRA for the CRM certificate. Each student’s right to participation in the PPE portion of the curriculum is also contingent upon compliance with the rules of the PPE. The PPE has the sole discretion to determine when its rules have been violated.

CAHIIM Accreditation LogoThe Health Information Management accreditor of Oakton Community College is the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). The College’s accreditation for an Associate degree in Health Information Technology has been reaffirmed through 2028.

All inquiries about the program’s accreditation status should be directed by mail to CAHIIM, 200 East Randolph Street, Suite 5100, Chicago, IL, 60601; by phone at 312.235.3255; or by email at info@cahiim.org.

 

Iwona Zylinska
“The HIT program chair has always supported me in my journey at Oakton. I can always reach out to the chair if I have any issues or questions. All HIT faculty members are very supportive. We have two Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) exam review sessions in April. The HIT faculty members prepare guides to study for this exam and review with us—it’s very helpful.”

Iwona Zylinska

Oakton Alum

Iwona's Story

Meet Your Faculty and Experts

Oakton's professors and lecturers are experts in their fields with advanced degrees and years of real-world experience. In addition to classroom learning, students receive support from our panel of expert advisors.

Hanna Wierzchowski, DDS, RHIA, COC, CPC
Professor and Chair
A.A.S. Oakton Community College
B.S. University of Illinois Chicago
D.D.S. Bialystok Dental School, Bialystok, Poland
hwierzchowski@oakton.edu
847.635.1695
Office: Room 2844 Des Plaines

Adriana Raicu, RHIA
Assistant Professor
A.A.S. Oakton Community College
B.S. Legal Studies Craiova University, Romania
araicu@oakton.edu
847.635.1684
Office: Room 2807 Des Plaines

Meet our part-time faculty

Lincy Chandy, RHIA, CCS
Lecturer
A.A. Oakton Community College
B.S. National-Louis University
lchandy@oakton.edu
847.635.1684

Karen Conway

Ava Dacka

Geraldo Salvacion, MBA, RHIT
Lecturer
A.A. Oakton Community College
B.S. National-Louis University
gsalvaci@oakton.edu
http://www.oakton.edu/~gsalvaci
847.635.1435

Traci Strobel, CCS-P, CHA, CHCO, CIFHA
Lecturer
B.S. Bemidji State University
tstrobel@oakton.edu
847.635.1684

Davita Webb, RHIT
Lecturer
A.A.S. Oakton Community College
B.S. George Williams College
M.H.A. National Louis University
dwebb@oakton.edu
http://www.oakton.edu/~dwebb
847.635.1684

Eunju Do, RHIA
Health Information Record Services
Northshore University Health System
 
Karen Conway, CTR
Senior Cancer Registrar
Northwestern Medicine West Region
 
Ava Dacka, RHIT, CTR
Senior Cancer Registrar
Northwestern Memorial Hospital Chicago
 
Judy Ferraro, RHIA
Faculty Emeritus
Oakton Community College
 
Ms. Linda Frank, MBA, RHIA
President
Innovative Workflow Technologies


Kathleen Green, RHIT
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Clinical Coding Department
 
Adam Jachymiak, RHIT, CCD, CCDS
System Coding Resource Coordinator –Inpatient
Northwestern Memorial HealthCare
 
Veronica Minsky, RHIT
HIM Director
Chicago Behavioral Hospital
Lake Behavioral Hospital
 
Bojana Nikolic, RHIA, CHC, CCS, CPC 
Senior Analyst
Internal Audit, Coding Compliance
Northshore University HealthSystem
 
Maria Novi-Hammer, CCA
Director of Sales
The Merion
 
Cynthia (Cindy) Penkala, CMM, CMPE
Director, Division of Practice Transformation and Member Education
American Osteopathic Association
 
Ms. Maribel Romero, CTR, CPE
Manager, Oncology Data Manager
Swedish Covenant Hospital
 
Lyudmila Shilshut, MS CBCS
Billing Manager
North Suburban Physicians Group
 
Ms. Nancy Totsch, RHIT
Rainbow Hospice and Palliative Care
525 South Prospect
Park Ridge, IL 60068
847-823-9551
njt131@att.net
 
Anna Taha, MD, RHIA, CCS, CDIP, CCDS, CCS-P, COC, CPC
Operations Coordinator
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
 
Maureen Warner, RHIA
847-899-1665
mwarner1225@comcast.net

What's Next?

We are glad you are considering attending Oakton Community College. No matter where you are in your decision-making process, we are here to help you with your next steps. Whether you're ready to apply now, need information on paying for college or have questions and want to contact someone, we're here to help.

FAQ

Job opportunities exist in hospitals, ambulatory care, long-term care, cancer registries, managed care, and physician practices, as well as non-traditional areas in professional organizations, legal offices, industry vendors, insurance companies and pharmaceutical firms. Anywhere health information is used can become a job opportunity for the credentialed HIT profession.

Yes, an interview is required before acceptance into the limited enrollment programs including the A.A.S. degree program. The interview process allows the student to gain an understanding of the HIT profession and the demands of the program. You will need to demonstrate good verbal and written communication skills essential to working in the health care field.

Before acceptance into the limited enrollment programs you may be admitted to Oakton as a student and begin taking general education courses and any prerequisites that apply. A good starting point is HIT 104 Medical Terminology, BIO 101 if you have not had a biology class within the last five years and EGL 101. It is also recommended that students take as many general education classes as possible before starting the program. For the A.A.S., you must complete BIO 114, math or math placement, and HIT 104 and 105 before admission.

Yes, because the health information technology field is dynamic and fast changing, frequent updates in the curriculum are required. To assure that graduates are current and prepared to take the national certification exam, the limited enrollment courses (HIT) in the full-time A.A.S. must be completed within three years. The limited enrollment courses (HIT) in the part-time program must be completed within four years. It will be necessary to repeat limited enrollment courses that fall outside this guideline to complete the program. Limited enrollment courses are those with the HIT prefix. All limited enrollment courses, BIO 114 and MAT 131 require a minimum grade of C.

After you graduate from the associate in applied science degree in health information technology, you may sit for the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) certification exam given by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). After successful passing of the exam, you may put the initials RHIT after your name. These are recognized nationally as a HIT professional.

Yes, during the last two semesters of the program. While taking HIT 251 and HIT 252 classes, the students gain first-hand experience working in the health care environment. Students are placed in facilities that use health information which may include but are not limited to hospital health information management departments and other health care facilities that are available such as long-term care, ambulatory care, virtual lab and cancer registry. This is generally done two days a week. You spend an 8-hour workday at the assigned facility.

The national organization for HIT professionals is the American Health Information Management Association. Visit their website at http://www.ahima.org.

Each program is designed for the needs of the students in that curriculum. The sequencing of the courses may not be the same. It is recommended that students stay in the program they are admitted to. Any change between pathways would result in a one year delay in graduation. A student must speak with the program chair before taking a course outside of the program they were admitted to.

An excellent command of the medical language is vital to success in the HIT program. Medical terminology courses must not be more than two years old at the time the first limited enrollment course is begun. You may take a proficiency exam to place out of HIT 104 at an additional cost. The exam is administered by the Testing Center on the Des Plaines campus. The Testing Center can be reached at 847.635.1939 for information.

A.A.S. degree students gain a knowledge of all aspects of health information management. Students have a greater variety and number of job opportunities open to them. Most medical coding and billing certificate courses are part of the A.A.S. degree program. HIT AAS students can sit for the RHIT certification exam and have the opportunity to continue their studies at a four-year college.

It is estimated that the student will need an additional 2-3 hours per class per credit hour per week outside of class time for studying. Some students require more, and others require less. It is important that you plan class, study, family, work, travel and social time carefully to balance conflicting responsibilities during your educational career.

Licensure Requirements: Each state and territory has different licensure and certification requirements.  Oakton has researched and/or contacted state licensing authorities to confirm that the program meets the educational requirements leading to professional licensure.  Other licensure requirements may include professional certification exams, background checks, years of work experience, fingerprinting, etc.

Licensure information is reviewed and updated on this site in June of each year. Licensure information is reviewed and updated on this site in June of each year. As of July 1, 2020, we have determined that there are no formal state licensure requirements for Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT). Individuals that successfully complete Health Information Technology AAS Degree Program curriculum:


Meets the education requirements leading to licensure/certification in these states and U.S. Territories: Illinois, Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming


Does NOT meet the education requirements For licensure/certification in these states and U.S. Territories: 


We have not made a determination if the program curriculum meets the requirements for licensure/certification in these states and US Territories:


If you intend to practice in any state other than Illinois, you should contact the appropriate licensing agency to independently verify whether Oakton’s program satisfies the educational requirements for licensure in a particular state before beginning Oakton’s program. Be aware that state licensure requirements may change from time to time and that states may have conditions for licensure in addition to educational requirements.

This information is provided to meet the Disclosure Requirements for Academic Programs Leading to Professional Licensure or Certification.

Contact Us

Jennifer Crowley
Senior Health Career Advisor
847.635.1844
jcrowley@oakton.edu

Hanna Wierzchowski
Department Chair
847.635.1695
hwierzchowski@oakton.edu