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Question: Does the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) Accredit Online Master’s in Health Informatics and Health Information Management (HIM) Degree Programs?

Answer: Yes, CAHIIM provides accreditation to online and campus-based master’s in health informatics and HIM degree programs, as well as to online and campus-based programs at the associate and baccalaureate degree levels. Degree-granting programs that offer professional training and instruction in health informatics and HIM are eligible to apply for CAHIIM accreditation, which is conferred to qualifying programs after a rigorous assessment and review process. CAHIIM accreditation serves as an indicator that a program has the resources to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue a career in health informatics and/or HIM and a curriculum that covers core competencies in health informatics and/or HIM.

What Is CAHIIM?

CAHIIM is a non-profit organization recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) as an accrediting body for associate and baccalaureate degree programs in HIM, and master’s degree programs in health informatics and HIM. The organization grew out of the Commission on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) in 2006. It first issued developed guidelines for health informatics and HIM programs in 2008, and received recognition from CHEA in 2012.

While health informatics and HIM programs are not required to apply for accreditation from CAHIIM, accreditation serves as a means of assuring students that a program meets industry standards for professional training in the field. CAHIIM accreditation is also meant to ensure that graduates from a program have had the opportunity to learn about the social, behavioral, and technical aspects of healthcare information systems, as well as contemporary electronic health record (EHR) systems and regulatory issues in healthcare data management.

In addition, graduating from a CAHIIM-accredited program is one of the eligibility requirements for professional certifications offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), including Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA), Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT), Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA), and Certified Healthcare Technology Specialist (CHTS).

CAHIIM Accreditation Standards

CAHIIM makes a distinction between health informatics, which focuses primarily on the technical aspects of information systems used in healthcare, and HIM, which focuses more broadly on administrative, policy, and information governance issues in the field. However, CAHIIM’s accreditation standards for master’s in informatics and master’s in HIM program are quite similar. All master’s programs seeking CAHIIM accreditation must be offered by a college or university that has institutional accreditation from one of the six regional accrediting bodies recognized by the US Department of Education for baccalaureate and master’s degree programs:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and University (NWCCU)
  • The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • The Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

In addition, master’s in health informatics and HIM programs must demonstrate compliance with the accreditation standards outlined by CAHIIM in its 2017 Health Informatics Accreditation Standards and its Standards and Interpretations for Accreditation of Master’s Degree Programs in Health Information Management. These include:

  • The program must be established as a core concentration or specialized track within a graduate level program of study that culminates with a master’s degree.
  • The program’s curriculum must reflect the program’s mission, goals, and objectives. The curriculum must build on the minimum health informatics competencies as specified in the American Medical Informatics Association’s Competencies for Health Informatics Education at the Masters Degree Level, or the HIM competencies as specified in the AHIMA “Competencies for HIM Education at the Master’s Degree Level.”
  • The program curriculum must stay current with evolving issues and practices in health informatics and HIM.
  • The program must provide CAHIIM with full access to all online course content and relevant education applications used to deliver this content.
  • The program must provide opportunities for faculty to stay current with evolving issues and practices in health informatics.
  • The instructional resources and services provided for the program including access to reference/library and information technology, as well as other resources used in the curriculum must be adequate, appropriately staffed and accessible by all students regardless of the delivery mode of the program.
  • The program must demonstrate that financial resources are adequate to support and maintain the program offered.
  • The program must have an effective and accessible academic advising system for students, as well as readily available career and placement advice.
  • All activities associated with the program, including student and faculty recruitment, student admission, and faculty employment practices, must be non-discriminatory and in accordance with federal and state statutes, rules, and regulations.

Finally, master’s in health informatics and HIM programs must demonstrate that they offer a curriculum that aligns with guidelines issue by the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) in its Informatics Core Competencies or the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) in its 2014 HIM Master’s Degree Curriculum Requirements.

Finding CAHIIM-Accredited Programs

CAHIIM maintains a Program Directory of the various types of online and on-campus programs it accredits, including:

  • Associate in Health Information Management Degree Programs
  • Bachelor’s in Health Information Management Degree Programs
  • Master’s in Health Information Management Degree Programs
  • Master’s in Health Informatics Degree Programs

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