Health care or healthcare is the maintenance or improvement of health
via the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, illness,
injury, and other physical and mental impairments in human beings.
Healthcare is delivered by health professionals (providers or
practitioners) in allied health fields.
Physicians and physician
associates are a part of these health professionals. Dentistry,
midwifery, nursing, medicine, optometry, audiology, pharmacy,
psychology, and other health professions are all part of healthcare.
It includes work done in providing primary care, secondary care, and
tertiary care, as well as in public health.
Access to health care may vary across countries, communities, and
individuals, largely influenced by social and economic conditions as
well as the health policies in place. Countries and jurisdictions have
different policies and plans in relation to the personal and
population-based health care goals within their societies. Healthcare
systems are organizations established to meet the health needs of
targeted populations. Their exact configuration varies between
national and subnational entities. In some countries and
jurisdictions, health care planning is distributed among market
participants, whereas in others, planning occurs more centrally among
governments or other coordinating bodies. In all cases, according to
Health Organization (WHO), a well-functioning healthcare
system requires a robust financing mechanism; a well-trained and
adequately paid workforce; reliable information on which to base
decisions and policies; and well maintained health facilities and
logistics to deliver quality medicines and technologies.
Healthcare can contribute to a significant part of a country's
economy. In 2011, the healthcare industry consumed an average of 9.3
percent of the GDP or US$ 3,322 (PPP-adjusted) per capita across the
34 members of OECD countries. The US (17.7%, or US$ PPP 8,508), the
Netherlands (11.9%, 5,099),
France (11.6%, 4,118),
Canada (11.2%, 5669), and
Switzerland (11%, 5,634) were the
top spenders, however life expectancy in total population at birth was
Switzerland (82.8 years),
France (82.2) and
Australia (82.0), while OECD's
average exceeds 80 years for the first time ever in 2011: 80.1 years,
a gain of 10 years since 1970. The US (78.7 years) ranges only on
place 26 among the 34 OECD member countries, but has the highest costs
by far. All OECD countries have achieved universal (or almost
universal) health coverage, except the US and Mexico. (see also
Health care is conventionally regarded as an important determinant in
promoting the general physical and mental health and well-being of
people around the world. An example of this was the worldwide
eradication of smallpox in 1980, declared by the WHO as the first
disease in human history to be completely eliminated by deliberate
health care interventions.
1.1 Primary care
1.2 Secondary care
1.3 Tertiary care
1.3.1 Quaternary care
1.4 Home and community care
2 Related sectors
Health care industry
Health care research
Health care financing
Health care administration and regulation
Health information technology
3 Countries and regions
3.3 United Kingdom
3.4 United States
4 See also
6 External links
Primary care may be provided in community health centres.
The delivery of modern health care depends on groups of trained
professionals and paraprofessionals coming together as
interdisciplinary teams. This includes professionals in medicine,
psychology, physiotherapy, nursing, dentistry, midwifery and allied
health, along with many others such as public health practitioners,
community health workers and assistive personnel, who systematically
provide personal and population-based preventive, curative and
rehabilitative care services.
While the definitions of the various types of health care vary
depending on the different cultural, political, organizational and
disciplinary perspectives, there appears to be some consensus that
primary care constitutes the first element of a continuing health care
process and may also include the provision of secondary and tertiary
levels of care. Healthcare can be defined as either public or
The emergency room is often a frontline venue for the delivery of
primary medical care.
Main article: Primary care
See also: Primary health care, Ambulatory care, and Urgent care
Medical train "Therapist Matvei Mudrov" in Khabarovsk, Russia
Primary care refers to the work of health professionals who act as a
first point of consultation for all patients within the health care
system. Such a professional would usually be a primary care
physician, such as a general practitioner or family physician. Another
professional would be a licensed independent practitioner such as a
physiotherapist, or a non-physician primary care provider such as a
physician assistant or nurse practitioner. Depending on the locality,
health system organization the patient may see another health care
professional first, such as a pharmacist or nurse. Depending on the
nature of the health condition, patients may be referred for secondary
or tertiary care.
Primary care is often used as the term for the health care services
that play a role in the local community. It can be provided in
different settings, such as
Urgent care centers which provide same day
appointments or services on a walk-in basis.
Primary care involves the widest scope of health care, including all
ages of patients, patients of all socioeconomic and geographic
origins, patients seeking to maintain optimal health, and patients
with all types of acute and chronic physical, mental and social health
issues, including multiple chronic diseases. Consequently, a primary
care practitioner must possess a wide breadth of knowledge in many
areas. Continuity is a key characteristic of primary care, as patients
usually prefer to consult the same practitioner for routine check-ups
and preventive care, health education, and every time they require an
initial consultation about a new health problem. The International
Classification of Primary Care (ICPC) is a standardized tool for
understanding and analyzing information on interventions in primary
care based on the reason for the patient's visit.
Common chronic illnesses usually treated in primary care may include,
for example: hypertension, diabetes, asthma, COPD, depression and
anxiety, back pain, arthritis or thyroid dysfunction. Primary care
also includes many basic maternal and child health care services, such
as family planning services and vaccinations. In the United States,
the 2013 National
Health Interview Survey found that skin disorders
(42.7%), osteoarthritis and joint disorders (33.6%), back problems
(23.9%), disorders of lipid metabolism (22.4%), and upper respiratory
tract disease (22.1%, excluding asthma) were the most common reasons
for accessing a physician.
In the United States, primary care physicians have begun to deliver
primary care outside of the managed care (insurance-billing) system
through direct primary care which is a subset of the more familiar
Physicians in this model bill patients directly
for services, either on a pre-paid monthly, quarterly, or annual
basis, or bill for each service in the office. Examples of direct
primary care practices include Foundation
Health in Colorado and
Qliance in Washington.
In context of global population aging, with increasing numbers of
older adults at greater risk of chronic non-communicable diseases,
rapidly increasing demand for primary care services is expected in
both developed and developing countries. The World Health
Organization attributes the provision of essential primary care as an
integral component of an inclusive primary health care strategy.
Secondary care includes acute care: necessary treatment for a short
period of time for a brief but serious illness, injury or other health
condition. This care is often found in a hospital emergency
Secondary care also includes skilled attendance during
childbirth, intensive care, and medical imaging services.
The term "secondary care" is sometimes used synonymously with
"hospital care." However, many secondary care providers, such as
psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, occupational therapists, most
dental specialties or physiotherapists do not necessarily work in
hospitals. Some primary care services are delivered within hospitals.
Depending on the organization and policies of the national health
system, patients may be required to see a primary care provider for a
referral before they can access secondary care. Physiotherapists are
both primary and secondary care providers that do not require a
In the United States, which operates under a mixed market health care
system, some physicians might voluntarily limit their practice to
secondary care by requiring patients to see a primary care provider
first. This restriction may be imposed under the terms of the payment
agreements in private or group health insurance plans. In other cases,
medical specialists may see patients without a referral, and patients
may decide whether self-referral is preferred.
United Kingdom and Canada, patient self-referral to a medical
specialist for secondary care is rare as prior referral from another
physician (either a primary care physician or another specialist) is
considered necessary, regardless of whether the funding is from
private insurance schemes or national health insurance.
Allied health professionals, such as physical therapists, respiratory
therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and
dietitians, also generally work in secondary care, accessed through
either patient self-referral or through physician referral.
Neurosurgery in London, United
Kingdom is a specialist neurological hospital.
See also: Medicine
Tertiary care is 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 treatment, such as a tertiary
Examples of tertiary care services are cancer management,
neurosurgery, cardiac surgery, plastic surgery, treatment for severe
burns, advanced neonatology services, palliative, and other complex
medical and surgical interventions.
The term quaternary care is sometimes used as an extension of tertiary
care in reference to advanced levels of medicine which are highly
specialized and not widely accessed. Experimental medicine and some
types of uncommon diagnostic or surgical procedures are considered
quaternary care. These services are usually only offered in a limited
number of regional or national health care centers. Quaternary
care is more prevalent in the United Kingdom.
Home and community care
See also: Public health
Many types of health care interventions are delivered outside of
health facilities. They include many interventions of public health
interest, such as food safety surveillance, distribution of condoms
and needle-exchange programs for the prevention of transmissible
They also include the services of professionals in residential and
community settings in support of self care, home care, long-term care,
assisted living, treatment for substance use disorders among other
types of health and social care services.
Community rehabilitation services can assist with mobility and
independence after loss of limbs or loss of function. This can include
prosthesis, orthotics or wheelchairs.
Many countries, especially in the west are dealing with aging
populations, so one of the priorities of the health care system is to
help seniors live full, independent lives in the comfort of their own
homes. There is an entire section of health care geared to providing
seniors with help in day-to-day activities at home such as
transportation to and from doctor's appointments along with many other
activities that are essential for their health and well-being.
Although they provide home care for older adults in cooperation,
family members and care workers may harbor diverging attitudes and
values towards their joint efforts. This state of affairs presents a
challenge for the design of ICT (information and communication
technology) for home care.
Because statistics show that over 80 million Americans have taken time
off of their primary employment to care for a loved one, many
countries have begun offering programs such as Consumer Directed
Personal Assistant Program to allow family members to take care of
their loved ones without giving up their entire income.[citation
With obesity in children rapidly becoming a major concern, health
services often set up programs in schools aimed at educating children
about nutritional eating habits, making physical education a
requirement and teaching young adolescents to have positive
Health care ratings
Health care ratings are ratings or evaluations of health care used to
evaluate the process of care and healthcare structures and/or outcomes
of health care services. This information is translated into report
cards that are generated by quality organizations, nonprofit, consumer
groups and media. This evaluation of quality is based on:
Health Plan Quality
Measures of Quality for Other
Health care extends beyond the delivery of services to patients,
encompassing many related sectors, and is set within a bigger picture
of financing and governance structures.
Health system and
Health systems by country
A health system, also sometimes referred to as health care system or
healthcare system is the organization of people, institutions, and
resources that deliver health care services to populations in need.
Health care industry
Health care industry and
A group of Chilean 'Damas de Rojo' volunteering at their local
The health care industry incorporates several sectors that are
dedicated to providing health care services and products. As a basic
framework for defining the sector, the United Nations' International
Standard Industrial Classification categorizes health care as
generally consisting of hospital activities, medical and dental
practice activities, and "other human health activities." The last
class involves activities of, or under the supervision of, nurses,
midwives, physiotherapists, scientific or diagnostic laboratories,
pathology clinics, residential health facilities, patient
advocates or other allied health professions.
In addition, according to industry and market classifications, such as
Global Industry Classification Standard and the Industry
Classification Benchmark, health care includes many categories of
medical equipment, instruments and services including biotechnology,
diagnostic laboratories and substances, drug manufacturing and
For example, pharmaceuticals and other medical devices are the leading
high technology exports of
Europe and the United States. The
United States dominates the biopharmaceutical field, accounting for
three-quarters of the world's biotechnology revenues.
Health care research
Medical research and
See also: List of health care journals, List of medical journals, and
List of nursing journals
For a topical guide to this subject, see Healthcare science.
The quantity and quality of many health care interventions are
improved through the results of science, such as advanced through the
medical model of health which focuses on the eradication of illness
through diagnosis and effective treatment. Many important advances
have been made through health research, biomedical research and
pharmaceutical research, which form the basis for evidence-based
medicine and evidence-based practice in health care delivery.
For example, in terms of pharmaceutical research and development
Europe spends a little less than the United States
(€22.50bn compared to €27.05bn in 2006). The United States
accounts for 80% of the world's research and development spending in
In addition, the results of health services research can lead to
greater efficiency and equitable delivery of health care
interventions, as advanced through the social model of health and
disability, which emphasizes the societal changes that can be made to
make populations healthier. Results from health services research
often form the basis of evidence-based policy in health care systems.
Health services research is also aided by initiatives in the field of
artificial intelligence for the development of systems of health
assessment that are clinically useful, timely, sensitive to change,
culturally sensitive, low burden, low cost, built into standard
procedures, and involve the patient.
Health care financing
Health care system,
Health policy, and Universal health care
There are generally five primary methods of funding health care
general taxation to the state, county or municipality
social health insurance
voluntary or private health insurance
donations to health charities
In most countries, the financing of health care services features a
mix of all five models, but the exact distribution varies across
countries and over time within countries. In all
countries and jurisdictions, there are many topics in the politics and
evidence that can influence the decision of a government, private
sector business or other groups to adopt a specific health policy
regarding the financing structure.
For example, social health insurance is where a nation's entire
population is eligible for health care coverage. This coverage and the
services provided are regulated. In almost every jurisdiction with a
government-funded health care system, a parallel private, and usually
for-profit, the system is allowed to operate. This is
sometimes referred to as two-tier health care or universal health
For example, in Poland, the costs of health services borne by the
Health Fund (financed by all citizens that pay health
insurance contributions) in 2012 amounted to 60.8 billion PLN
(approximately 20 billion USD). The right to health services in Poland
is granted to 99.9% of the population, including registered unemployed
persons their spouses).
Health care administration and regulation
Health professional requisites
The management and administration of health care is another sector
vital to the delivery of health care services. In particular, the
practice of health professionals and operation of health care
institutions is typically regulated by national or state/provincial
authorities through appropriate regulatory bodies for purposes of
quality assurance. Most countries have credentialing staff in
regulatory boards or health departments who document the certification
or licensing of health workers and their work history.
Health information technology
Health information technology,
Health informatics, and eHealth
Health information technology (HIT) is "the application of information
processing involving both computer hardware and software that deals
with the storage, retrieval, sharing, and use of health care
information, data, and knowledge for communication and decision
making." Technology is a broad concept that deals with a species'
usage and knowledge of tools and crafts, and how it affects a species'
ability to control and adapt to its environment. However, a strict
definition is elusive; "technology" can refer to material objects of
use to humanity, such as machines, hardware or utensils, but can also
encompass broader themes, including systems, methods of organization,
and techniques. For HIT, technology represents
computers and communications attributes that can be networked to build
systems for moving health information. Informatics is yet another
integral aspect of HIT.
Health information technology can be divided into further components
Health Record (EHR),
Electronic Medical Record
Electronic Medical Record (EMR),
Health Record (PHR), Medical Practice Management software
Health Information Exchange (HIE) and many more. There are
multiple purposes for the use of HIT within the health care industry.
Further, the use of HIT is expected to improve the quality of health
care, reduce medical errors and health care costs to improve health
care service efficiency.
Health information technology components:
Health Record (EHR) - An EHR contains a patient's
comprehensive medical history, and may include records from multiple
Electronic Medical Record
Electronic Medical Record (EMR) - An EMR contains the standard medical
and clinical data gathered in one's provider’s office.
Health Record (PHR) - A PHR is a patient's medical history
that is maintained privately, for personal use.
Medical Practice Management software (MPM) - is designed to streamline
the day-to-day tasks of operating a medical facility. Also known as
practice management software or practice management system (PMS).
Health Information Exchange (HIE) -
Health Information Exchange allows
health care professionals and patients to appropriately access and
securely share a patient’s vital medical information
Countries and regions
Main article: Healthcare in Taiwan
Healthcare in Taiwan
Healthcare in Taiwan is administered and monitored by the Ministry of
Health and Welfare and
Executive Yuan for management of the National
Main article: Healthcare in Canada
Main article: Healthcare in the United Kingdom
Each of the four countries of the UK has a publicly funded health care
system referred to as the National
Health Service (NHS). All of the
services were founded in 1948, based on legislation passed by the
Labour Government that had been elected in 1945 with a manifesto
commitment to implement the
Beveridge Report recommendation to create
"comprehensive health and rehabilitation services for prevention and
cure of disease".
The NHS was born out of a long-held British ideal that good healthcare
should be available to all, regardless of wealth. At its launch by the
UK minister of health, Aneurin Bevan, on 5 July 1948, had at its heart
three core principles: that it meet the needs of everyone, that it be
free at the point of delivery, and that it be based on clinical need,
not ability to pay.
Main article: Healthcare in the United States
Main article: Healthcare in India
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Wikipedia's layout guidelines. Please help by editing the article to
make improvements to the overall structure. (January 2014) (Learn how
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Health and fitness portal
Acronyms in healthcare
Catholic Church and health care
Clinical documentation improvement
Electronic health record
Healthcare system /
Health center /
Healthy city / Alliance for Healthy Cities
Health care reform /
Health care reform in the United States /
Unnecessary health care
Health insurance /
Right to health /Social health
List of OECD countries by health care outcome
ATC codes (Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical classification system)
Classification of Pharmaco-Therapeutic Referrals
Classification of Pharmaco-Therapeutic Referrals (CPR)
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) / List of
ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases)
International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC-2) / ICPC-2 PLUS
Doctor's visit / Nursing
Philosophy of healthcare
Community health service
Community health service / Community health centers in the United
Direct primary care
Direct primary care (United States)
Family medicine /
Preventive medicine / Social medicine
Social service / Social determinants of health
Universal health care
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OECD's iLibrary. 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-24.
Health Organization. Anniversary of smallpox eradication.
Geneva, 18 June 2010.
^ United States Department of Labor. Employment and Training
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Library resources about
Resources in your library
Resources in other libraries
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Travel health.
HR3200: America's Affordable
Health Choices Act of 2009
Defining Primary Care from Institute of
Medicine IOM—Primary Care:
Health in a New Era (1996)
Primary Care Definitions from American Academy of Family Physicians
Definition of Primary Care from American Medical Association AMA
Defining primary health care Department of
United Kingdom UK
What is primary health care? Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance
Northern Territory (AMSANT) Australia
Morrisey, Michael A. (2008). "
Health Care". In David R. Henderson
Concise Encyclopedia of Economics (2nd ed.). Indianapolis:
Library of Economics and Liberty. ISBN 978-0865976658.
OCLC 237794267. CS1 maint: Extra text: editors list (link)
Allied health professions
Health information management
Medical school (Academic health science centre, Teaching hospital)
Skills / Training
Substantive human rights
Note: What is considered a human right is controversial and not all
the topics listed are universally accepted as human rights.
Civil and political
Equality before the law
Freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention
Freedom of assembly
Freedom of association
Freedom from cruel and unusual punishment
Freedom from discrimination
Freedom from exile
Freedom of information
Freedom of movement
Freedom of religion
Freedom from slavery
Freedom of speech
Freedom of thought
Freedom from torture
Presumption of innocence
Right of asylum
Right to die
Right to a fair trial
Right to family life
Right to keep and bear arms
Right to life
Right to petition
Right to privacy
Right to protest
Right to refuse medical treatment
Right of self-defense
Security of person
Equal pay for equal work
Right to an adequate standard of living
Right to clothing
Right to development
Right to education
Right to food
Right to health
Right to housing
Right to Internet access
Right to property
Right to public participation
Right of reply
Right of return
Right to science and culture
Right to social security
Right to water
Right to work
Trade union membership
Freedom from involuntary female genital mutilation
Intersex human rights
Right to sexuality
War and conflict
Freedom from genocide
Prisoner of war
Levels of practice
Clinical nurse leader
Licensed practical nurse
APRNs by role
Clinical nurse specialist
NPs by Population
Associate of Science in Nursing
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Diploma in Nursing
Master of Science in Nursing
Board of nursing
Nurse Licensure Compact
Nursing credentials and certifications
areas of practice
Psychiatric and mental health
Nursing care plan
Nursing Interventions Classification
Nursing Minimum Data Set (NMDS)
Nursing Outcomes Classification
New Zealand (timeline)
Republic of Ireland
United Kingdom (history)
United States (history)
Oral and maxillofacial surgery
Allergy / Immunology
Obstetrics and gynaecology
Reproductive endocrinology and infertility
Physical medicine and rehabilitation
Physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R)
Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery
Bachelor of Medical Sciences
Master of Medicine
Master of Surgery
Doctor of Medicine
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
History of medicine