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The Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) track leading to a Master of Science degree in Health Informatics gives students the academic accreditation necessary to sit for the RHIA exam, which will allow students to serve as an integral link between care providers, payers and patients. With these skills, graduates can help manage protected health information, including its input, security, transmission and storage.

The RHIA track:

  • Centers around health information management – including revenue cycle, privacy and security and clinical documentation requirements (content that goes into electronic health records).
  • Provides graduates with the skills to create and manage databases, oversee organization of data and ultimately act as the business intelligence component of a health care organization.
  • Helps professionals in any health-related area become directors, managers or team leaders in various health care settings.
  • Enables graduates to develop the interpersonal and interdisciplinary skills needed to work alongside multiple people and teams throughout the healthcare organization, communicate with C-suite executives and ultimately take on leadership roles.

The RHIA track is for:

  • Professionals looking to gain specialized experience and be promoted in their field.
  • Anyone whose goals include leading and supervising teams or departments, from any background (related or not).
  • Those who want to work as a critical link between care providers, payers and patients, specifically:
    • Becoming an expert in managing patient health information and medical records, administering computer information systems, collecting and analyzing patient data and using classification systems and medical terminologies.
    • Possessing comprehensive knowledge of medical, administrative, ethical and legal requirements and standards related to health care delivery and the privacy of protected patient information.
    • Managing people and operational units, participating in administrative committees and preparing budgets.
    • Interacting with all levels of an organization – clinical, financial, administrative and information systems – that employ patient data in decision-making and everyday operations.

Potential Career Paths:

Job opportunities for RHIAs exist in multiple settings throughout the health care industry. These include the continuum of care delivery organizations, including hospitals, multispecialty clinics and physician practices, long-term care, mental health and other ambulatory care settings. The profession has seen significant expansion in nonpatient care settings, with careers in managed care and insurance companies, software vendors, consulting services, government agencies, education and pharmaceutical companies.

  • Health administrators
  • Project managers
  • Systems analysts
  • EHR implementation specialists
  • Consultants
  • Product managers
  • Auditors (abuse and fraud)
  • Quality control specialists
  • App developer
  • Executive level or leadership roles

The Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) Credentialing Exam:

The RHIA track is designed for students seeking eligibility to sit for the American Health Information Management (AHIMA) credentialing examination to become a Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA).

Accreditation

The Health Information Management accreditor of the University of Pittsburgh is the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). The College’s accreditation for a Master’s degree in Health Informatics with an RHIA track  has been reaffirmed through 2022-2023. 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.

Results from the 2019 outcomes assessment reported to CAHIIM in the 2020 Annual Program Report (APAR) indicate:

  • Graduate Program: RHIA track
  • Graduation Rate:  100%
  • Employment Rate: 100%
  • National Certification Exam (RHIA) Pass Rate: 100%

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RHIA Curriculum Requirements 

All students enrolled in the RHIA track are required to complete 36 credits. students enrolled full-time normally complete the program in 3 to 4 consecutive terms. There are online and on-campus versions of this track. The curriculum and course contents are identical in these two versions. Domestic students can choose either of them according to their situation or preference before the enrollment. International students are required to attend the on-campus version of the track.

Required courses for all students:

Many HI courses are only offered once per academic year. In this case, if a student fails to successfully complete a course, the student must retake the course the next academic year. This may prevent the student from registering for advanced-level courses and delay graduation.

*Internship

All students in the RHIA track are required to complete an internship as part of their curriculum. The internship is 3 credits and requires a minimum of 180 hours of student participation. The overall goal of the internship is to provide students with practical experiences to apply knowledge and skills learned in the classroom.

The HIM Department has affiliation agreements with approximately 200+ clinical sites for student internships. The following list provides a sample of these sites: 

  • Allegheny Health Network
  • Center for Connected Medicine 
  • Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh - IS Department 
  • Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh 
  • Excela Health 
  • Highmark
  • M*Modal
  • McKesson
  • Oman HIM Institute 
  • United Cerebral Palsy of Pittsburgh 
  • University of Pennsylvania Health System 
  • UPMC CTSI (Clinical and Translational Science Institute) 
  • UPMC Department of Radiology 
  • UPMC eRecord 
  • UPMC Health Track 
  • UPMC Interface Development 
  • UPMC Physician Services Division 
  • UPMC Radiology Division 
  • UPMC Technology Development Center 

Prerequisites for Graduate Internships

The following are required in order for students to be eligible to participate in an internship. The student’s advisor will provide detailed information and timelines for completion of the requirements once the student matriculates into the graduate program. 

  • Physical examination including proof or completion of specific immunizations 
  • TB test, 2-step 
  • Pennsylvania Criminal Record Check 
  • Pennsylvania Child Abuse Clearance 
  • FBI Background Check (includes fingerprinting) 
  • HIPAA Training and Certification 
  • Students must carry personal health insurance while participating in an internship.
  • Students must carry professional student liability insurance coverage while participating in an internship. This coverage is provided by the SHRS group insurance plan and will appear as a charge on the students’ tuition bill.

Some sites may have additional requirements (i.e. drug screen, influenza vaccine, or orientation programs specific to their organization). 

Internship sites may not allow a student to participate if the background check reports that they have been convicted of a misdemeanor; a felony; or a felonious or illegal act associated with alcohol and/or substance abuse. 

Additional Information

  • Travel to internship sites is the responsibility of the student. Students are expected to have a car or to provide their own transportation to all remote sites. No exceptions will be made. Not all sites are accessible by public transportation. 
  • All expenses for transportation, parking, meals, and costs of prerequisites associated with clinical education are the responsibility of the student. 
  • Approximate cost for clearances is $100, and costs for physical exam and immunization status are dependent on health insurance coverage and provider costs. 
  • Approximate cost for a drug screening is $40. 

For more information on internships, students are encouraged to contact their academic advisor.