Primary care medical services are health care given by healthcare providers: physicians, a professional who practices medicine, who is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury, and other physical and mental impairments; physician assistants (PA), a healthcare professional who is trained to practice medicine under the supervision of a physician; nurse practitioners (NP), advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) who have completed graduate-level education (either a Master of Nursing or Doctor of Nursing Practice degree); or other health professionals who have first contact with a patient seeking medical treatment or care. These occur in: physician offices; clinics (“outpatient clinics” or “ambulatory care clinics”), health care facilities that are primarily devoted to the care of outpatients; nursing homes (“convalescent homes,” “skilled nursing facilities” (“SNF”), “care home,” “rest home,” “intermediate care,” or “old folk’s home”), which provide a type of residential care; schools, home visits, and other places close to patients.
About 90% of medical visits can be treated by the primary care provider. These include treatment of: acute and chronic illnesses; preventive care/medicine, consisting of measures taken to prevent diseases (or injuries), rather than curing them or treating their symptoms; and health education, the profession of educating people (all ages and both sexes) about health.
Secondary care (“healthcare”) medical services, the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in humans, are provided by medical specialists in their offices or clinics or at a local community hospitals for a patient referred by a primary care provider who first diagnosed or treated the patient. Referrals are made for those patients who required the expertise or procedures performed by specialists. These include both: ambulatory care, a personal health care consultation, treatment or intervention using advanced medical technology or procedures delivered on an “outpatient” basis (i.e. where the patient’s stay at the hospital or clinic, from the time of registration to discharge, occurs on a single calendar day); and inpatient services, or when a patient is “admitted” to the hospital and stays overnight or for an indeterminate time, usually several days or weeks (though some cases, such as coma patients, have been in hospitals for years). Others are: emergency rooms (“emergency department” (“ED”), “accident & emergency” (A&E”), “casualty department”), or “ER,” a medical treatment facility specializing in acute care of patients who present without prior appointment, either by their own means or by ambulance; intensive/critical-care medicine, a branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis and management of life-threatening conditions requiring sophisticated organ support and invasive monitoring; surgery services; physical therapy (“physiotherapy”), often abbreviated “PT,” a health care profession primarily concerned with the remediation of impairments and disabilities and the promotion of mobility, functional ability, quality of life and movement potential through examination, evaluation and physical intervention carried out by “physical therapists” (known as “physiotherapists” in some countries) and “physical therapist assistants” (known as “physical rehabilitation therapists” in some countries); labor and delivery (“childbirth,” also called “partus” or Parturition”), the culmination of a human pregnancy or gestation period with the expulsion of one or more newborn infants from a woman’s uterus; endoscopy units, with endoscopy meaning “looking inside” and typically refers to looking inside the body for medical reasons using an “endoscope,” an instrument used to examine the interior of a hollow organ or cavity of the body; hospice centers, or centers for a type of care and a philosophy of care that focuses on the palliation of a terminally ill or seriously ill patient’s symptoms; diagnostic/medical/clinical laboratory, or a laboratory where tests are done on clinical specimens in order to get information about the health of a patient as pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease; and medical imaging services, the technique and process used to create images of the human body (or parts and functions thereof) for clinical purposes (medical procedures seeking to reveal, diagnose, or examine disease) or medical science (including the study of normal anatomy and and physiology; etc. Some primary care providers may also take care of hospitalized patients and deliver babies in a secondary care setting.
Tertiary care medical services, specialized consultative health care, usually for inpatients and on referral from a primary or secondary health professional, in a facility that has personnel and facilities for advanced medical investigation and treatments, such as tertiary referral hospital, are provided by specialist hospitals or regional centers equipped with diagnostic and treatment facilities not generally available at local hospitals. These include: trauma centers, a hospital equipped to provide comprehensive emergency medical services to patients suffering traumatic injuries; burn treatment centers, for a type of injury to flesh caused by heat, electricity, chemicals, light, radiation or friction; advanced neonatology unit service, a subspecialty of pediatrics that consists of the medical care of newborn infants, especially the ill or premature newborn infant; organ transplants, the moving of an organ from one body to another or from a donor site to another location on the patient’s own body, for the purpose of replacing the recipient’s damaged or absent organ; high-risk pregnancy; radiation oncology/therapy (“radiotherapy”), sometimes abbreviated to XRT or DXT, the medical use of ionizing radiation, generally as part of cancer treatment to control or kill malignant cells; etc.
Modern medical care also depends on information—still delivered in many health care setting in paper records, but increasingly nowadays by electronic means.