WILLIAMSPORT - Pennsylvania College of Technology's health information management degree, which advances students into one of today's fastest-growing career fields, has received national accreditation.
The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education, representatives of which toured the college in late January, recently notified Penn College's School of Business and Computer Technologies that the bachelor-degree major was awarded accreditation.
"Accreditation by CAHIIM adds prestige, value and a necessary focus on continuous quality improvement to our unique online bachelor's degree in health information management," said Edward A. Henninger, the school dean. "The primary benefit is the impact it will have on the marketability for our graduates."
The accreditation team noted a number of strengths during its two-day visit: student satisfaction, support from the college and school administration, credibility of program director Daniel K. Christopher and instructor Michele M. Budnovitch, and engagement of industry professionals on the academic advisory committee many of whom took off work to meet with CAHIIM officials.
"Obtaining this accreditation will provide a significant benefit to the program's graduates, since they will now be eligible to take the national certification exam," Christopher said. "It has been a long and arduous process that included developing and implementing this program, applying for accreditation, completing a lengthy self-study document, going through the site visit and responding to the site-visit report. We are very pleased to have obtained this accreditation."
Penn College, whose associate-degree health information technology major has also earned CAHIIM accreditation, is one of only four Pennsylvania institutions to have a recognized four-year offering, as well.
According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of health information managers and technicians is expected to rise by 20 percent through 2018, much more rapidly than the average for all occupations. That growth is attributed to an aging population and the corresponding increase in the number of medical tests, treatments and procedures that accompany longer life spans.
Penn College's four-year major, taught exclusively through distance learning, is particularly convenient for those with associate degrees who are already working in the field. Accreditation is expected to make the baccalaureate major even more attractive, boosting the popularity of a program that began with only four students not so long ago.
Nearly 100 Penn College students are seeking a two- or four-year degree or a certificate as a health information coding specialist. As word of the additional CAHIIM endorsement travels among working professionals, some of whom become acquainted with the college through the Central Pennsylvania Health Information Management Association, a rise in enrollment is expected.