what does a medical records specialist do

What Does a Medical Records Technician Do?

Medical records technicians, also called medical records specialists, are skilled professionals that help maintain, organize, and process patient information. They are essential to the healthcare field, ensuring that health records are accurate, patient files are secure, and providers are reimbursed for their services.

According to U.S. News, medical records technicians are ranked among the top 12 health care support careers, as well as the top 12 jobs you can land without a college degree today. It’s no wonder why. Flexibility is what makes this career a great choice, along with room for future growth in the field. Not to mention, it only takes a matter of months to become a medical records technician.

If you are looking to launch a career in health care quickly, and interested in the behind-the-scenes operations of patient care, becoming a medical records technician is an excellent choice. Read on to learn about the daily responsibilities of a medical records technician and how to get started fast.

What is a medical records technician?

A medical records technician (MRT) is an administrative professional who works in a medical office. Their main responsibility is to compile, maintain, and process patients’ medical records. On a daily basis, medical records technicians can be found updating medical histories, translating physicians’ notes, organizing records, digitizing patient data, and ensuring that records comply with HIPAA standards.

Electronic health records (EHRs) are core to the work of medical records technicians. These digital records are used by hospitals, private practices, residential facilities, and outpatient clinics to manage patient information in a secure database that is accessible by a patient’s entire care team. Medical records technicians help to enter patient information into these electronic systems, ensuring that the records are updated, accurate, and compliant with regulatory requirements.

What does a medical records technician do?

A medical records technician is responsible for administrative duties within the health care setting. They are critical to maintaining efficiencies in their facility and managing patient records in an accurate and secure manner. Some key responsibilities of a medical records technician include:

  • Creating and maintaining medical records
  • Collaborating with physicians and nurses to ensure accurate and timely documentation of patient care and treatment plans
  • Coding patient data and doctors’ notes using specialized classification systems
  • Ensuring the confidentiality of patients’ medical records
  • Facilitating billing and the processing of insurance claims
  • Maintaining security measures to protect patients’ medical records
  • Recording patient information electronically, and inputting into EHRs for storage and reporting
  • Retrieving records, releasing information, and responding to requests from patients, healthcare providers, and government agencies
  • Reviewing patient records for completeness and accuracy
  • Transcribing notes from healthcare providers into accurate, written reports

Overall, medical records technicians play a crucial role in the efficient operation of medical facilities by managing patients’ health information and ensuring its accuracy, confidentiality, and accessibility.


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Common types of medical records technicians

Medical records specialists work in various capacities within the healthcare industry. Some specialize in a certain area of medicine, such as oncology or research, while others might handle very specific tasks, such as medical billing and coding. Here are a few examples of the types of medical records specialists you can find within the field, each with their own unique job titles:

Cancer registrars:

Cancer registrars work in the field of oncology, compiling and maintaining data on cancer patients, including diagnoses, treatments, and outcomes. This data is used for records management as well as research, quality improvement, and public health purposes.

Health information technicians:

Health information specialists are another name for medical records specialists that you might come across in your job search. They are responsible for managing and organizing patient health information, including maintaining electronic health records (EHRs), ensuring data accuracy, coding diagnoses and procedures, and processing medical records requests.

Medical coders:

Medical coders use specialized classification systems to code patient data. Specifically, they assign standardized codes to patients’ diagnoses, procedures, and care services for billing and reimbursement purposes. These codes are recognized universally by healthcare providers, insurance companies, and more.

Medical records auditors:

These specialists are the quality assurers of medical records. They review patient records to ensure that the records are compliant with regulatory requirements, coded accurately, and completed in full. They also identify discrepancies, errors, and areas for improvement to maintain data integrity and patients’ quality of care.

Medical transcriptionists:

Medical transcriptionists listen to recorded dictations by healthcare providers and convert them into written reports, including medical histories, physical examination summaries, diagnostic test results, and comprehensive treatment plans.

These are just a few examples of the diverse roles within the field of medical records and health information management. The specific duties that medical records technicians do will vary depending on their title, as well as their place of work. However, they share the common goal of maintaining accurate and secure patient health information, to support the overall quality of patient care.

Where do medical records technicians work?

Wherever there are patients and medical records, there is a need for a medical records technician. Therefore, they have a diversity of job options to choose from! Medical records technicians can often be found working in hospitals, physician offices, outpatient clinics, long-term care facilities, health insurance companies, and government agencies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one-quarter of MRTs work in hospital settings. Almost 20 percent work in the offices of physicians, while other common industries include:

  • Professional, scientific, and technical services
  • Management of companies and enterprises
  • Administrative and support services

Becoming a medical records technician

As implied earlier, becoming a medical records technician is a relatively fast and straightforward pathway into the medical field. It is one of the top healthcare jobs you can launch without a college degree. As confirmed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most medical records technicians need only a postsecondary certificate to enter the occupation (though this can depend on your employer and place of work).

Some employers prefer medical records technicians to earn professional certification, though this is voluntary and can often be pursued after launching a job. Most certifications are related to medical billing and coding, to underline the technical competencies that are required for a coding career. For example, after graduation from a postsecondary program, MRTs may pursue credentials from the:

Now, what type of program do you need to enter, to begin your career in the field of medical records technology? Look for relevant programs with coursework in medical terminology, health standards and ethics, medical coding systems, medical office management, and more. At Goodwin University, there are two popular pathways for those interested in becoming a medical records technician, both offered at the postsecondary certificate level:

  • Medical Billing and Coding program, which explores the analytical side of healthcare and gives students professional skill sets in medical coding and transcription. Upon completion, graduates are well-prepared to pursue credentialing as a Certified Professional Coder (CPC).
  • Medical Assisting Certificate program, which teaches a variety of skills that can be used in a front-office medical setting, or in a clinical care setting working directly with patients. While medical assistants are not the same as medical records technicians, they can work on the administrative side of healthcare carrying out many duties to help streamline operations within the medical office.

Both programs are extremely flexible, offering the ability to complete your certificate and launch a career in as few as 12 months. With the healthcare field in need of skilled professionals, there is no better time to begin your career trajectory and get your foot in the door of the medical office. Why wait? Contact Goodwin University to request more information here.