Ask someone to name the people a healthcare operation cannot do without and they will immediately say doctors, nurses and administrators. That’s all true, but let’s add another group to the list: HIM coders.

Simply put, Health Information Management or HIM coders ensure a hospital gets paid for services provided. They take complex medical information, interpret it and report it to the various payment sources that work with hospitals.

It’s a vitally important job. It’s also in very high demand. Those looking for HIM coder jobs would do well to consult with a recruiter about possible jobs. Jobs are available in a wide variety of settings, primarily hospitals and clinics, and across the entire country.

What HIM Coders Do

Essentially, HIM coders take clinical information and turn it into a numerical value for payment sources.

For every patient in a hospital, electronic records track their condition. These include notes from doctors and other medical staff, as well as an accounting of procedures they received. When a patient is discharged, this chart makes its way to a HIM coder.

They then take this information and assign numerical values that are easily recognized by payment sources. In most cases this is either Medicare, Medicaid or a private insurer.

Doing the job right means the payment process goes smoothly. That’s of critical importance to any healthcare operation. The job requires both some clinical knowledge as well as the ability to work with data in an electronic healthcare records system.

The Demand For HIM Coders

The need for coders continues to grow.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not track HIM coding specifically, but does maintain data for health information technicians, which includes HIM coders.

The BLS projects that field will grow 15 percent between 2014 and 2024. That rate is much faster than the 7 percent average for all jobs across the nation. Almost 30,000 people are expected to enter the field by 2024.

Part of the reason for the growth is simply the fact the country’s population is aging. As more Baby Boomers move into their senior years, more will require medical services. This means an increased demand for those who can handle the larger volume of patient records.

Pay for HIM Coders

Salaries also are solid. They vary widely depending on the region where a coder works and the specific job duties. The BLS reports that the median salary for all health information technicians in May 2016 was $38,040. Those in the top 10 percent made almost $63,000.

Hospitals ranked among those healthcare operations providing the best salaries to HIM coders. The median pay for health information technicians working in hospitals was $40,510.

The most jobs are available in high population states. Those include California, New York, Texas, Ohio and Florida.

Clearly, HIM coders have become a key job for hospitals and other healthcare operations, such as nursing homes and private practices. For those looking for a new field in healthcare, it’s a profession worthy of consideration.

And for those who already have the education and skills for the job, there has never been a better time to look into the possibilities for employment.