Healthcare is a heavily regulated industry. It requires strict compliance with a number of rules and regulations to ensure that every patient’s personal information is protected. Besides data security, cost quality and availability of care are issues further complicating the healthcare landscape. More often than not, the field seems confused almost to the point of frustration.
Rapid advances in IT are also changing healthcare, with each new advance opening up numerous implementation opportunities while simultaneously requiring more degrees of compliances. So, how does one keep abreast of the new laws and technological changes? The answer is “certifications!” Proper certification can help decrease the learning curve and while maintaining adequate protection of patient information.
The major IT firms of India have been servicing foreign healthcare firms for more than three decades (mostly in the U.S., where health care costs account for roughly 18 percent of the economy). Our IT firms typically derive, at most, a quarter of their revenues from servicing these foreign companies.
Based on their experiences in the field, larger credentialing organizations have developed and maintain their own healthcare certifications. Presently, the focus on healthcare certs is primarily from the mid and small-sized IT service providers, as they focus on growing their client base or wresting away some of the clients belonging to larger companies.
A CEO of a start-up IT firm planning to focus on healthcare for the U.S. industry said that “most of the certified professionals he uses are primarily in sales and pre-sales,” and that he hasn’t been able to “directly utilise his certified professionals for project execution yet.” The demand for healthcare certified IT professionals, however, is expected to increase in the near future.
This increased demand is due to smaller firms rapidly picking up new customers, all firms are making large and more frequent investments in technology, and the imposition of new laws regarding patient data security. Data security, in particular, is expected to drive demand for healthcare certifications.
Since a significant percentage of IT in India involves servicing U.S. companies, healthcare certification needs are also driven by U.S. legal requirements. Still, healthcare certs are growing in demand and this may be a good time to investigate the potential for career development.
Presently, the following are the major certifications in the healthcare IT landscape in India:
HealthCare Information Security and Privacy Practitioner (HCISPP)
HCISPP certification ensures that professionals have the necessary skills to safeguard healthcare information and is usually taken up by people working as Information Security Managers. The certification is curated by (ISC)2 and provides an industry approval stamp that an individual is trained in security and piracy controls of personal health information.
The job duty of an HCISPP professional is to protect an organization’s patient data, especially through device transmission, by collating information on security, privacy best practices and technologies required to protect software.
HCISPP prerequisites are fairly onerous. Candidates are required to have a minimum of two years of “cumulative paid full-time work experience in one of the domains of HCISPP’s common body of knowledge that includes security, compliance, and privacy.” One of the two years must have been in the healthcare industry, and the candidate must be able to demonstrate competencies in all of the following domains:
- Healthcare Industry
- Regulatory Environment
- Privacy and Security in Healthcare
- Information Governance and Risk Management
- Information Risk Assessment
- Third Party Risk Management
To download and HCISPP Exam Outline, click here.
Candidates who lack the required experience can become an Associate of (ISC)2. This is a great way to gain access to established professionals and have an opportunity to take the exam while acquiring the necessary experience.
Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management (CAHIMS)
CAHIMS is curated by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), a global, cause-based, non-profit organization focused on better health through IT. CAHIMS is a beginning “pathway for careers in health IT.” The certification is designed for entry and mid-level professions like analysts and managers who may or may not have industry experience. Certificate holders possess demonstrable knowledge in healthcare information and management systems and a solid foundation for the next level in their career path.
Candidates must have a high school diploma (or international equivalent) and clear the certification exam. The exam is composed of 115 multiple-choice questions with a duration of two hours, and graded “Pass/Fail,” based on the raw score of the total examination. CAHIMS credential is valid for three years. To recertify, candidates must take and pass the current exam or have earned 45 Continuing Education Credits (CEC). To download a copy of the Candidate handbook and Application, click here.
For professionals who desire to gain more IT healthcare training and skills, HIMSS offers the Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS). CPHIMS certification requires specific educational and experience parameters and the applicant must be evaluated and cleared for eligibility before sitting for the exam. The evaluation is on knowledge and job related experiences.
For more complete information on CPHIMS’ eligibility, testing and recertification, click here.
Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA)
RHIA is presently the most in-demand health care certification in India. It is maintained by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). RHIA certified professionals manage patient health information and medical records, working with computer information systems, collecting and analyzing patient data. RHIAs need to have a solid understanding of the medical, administrative, ethical and legal requirements related to IT healthcare software development and legal privacy requirements for patient data.
To be eligible for the RGIA exam, candidates must meet one of the following requirements:
- Complete a degree from a health information management program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM)
- Graduate from a health information management program approved by a foreign association that has reciprocity with AHIMA.
All candidates must have their academic qualifications verified prior to testing and first time candidates are required to submit official transcripts from their educational institution. The exam consists of 180 multiple-choice questions with a duration of four hours, if you take no breaks. The current passing score is 300 out of a possible 400. The six knowledge domains covered on the exam are:
- Health data management
- Health statistics, biomedical research and quality management
- Information technology and systems
- Organization and management
- Privacy, confidentiality and security
- Legal and regulatory standards
In India there is reasonable demand for HIMSS professionals. Although a relatively new organization, HIMSS certifications are expected to become popular over the next few years as rules for security become more and more rigorous. Job openings for HCISPP professionals are fairly prevalent, especially for mid-level professionals.
At present, based on job postings and word of mouth, RHIA is the most in-demand healthcare certification in India. Unlike most other IT-related certifications, the RHIA credential requires candidates to enlist for a degree in a CAHIIM program and given the Indian mind-set, with its preference for degrees over certifications, RHIA will remain the most popular and sought after healthcare IT credential for some time.