Health care primarily means the organized way of medical care to maintain physical, mental and emotional well-being. The parties concerned are health care providers or professionals in various fields such as medicine, dentistry, psychology, pharmacy, midwifery, optometry, audiology, nursing, physical therapy, and other medical health care services. This is also achieved by restoring health by treatments or prevention of diseases by seeking medical assistance.
Factors that are considered in terms of varied access to health care can be due to personal limitations, geographic barriers or financial limitations. Low income, poor health literacy and lack of good communication with the healthcare providers fall into personal limitations whereas the cost of insurance coverage and the transport costs to get the medical service falls under financial and geographic limitations respectively. Such limitations may lead to negative affect for better use of medical service. This gives rise to an overall poor outcome of all possible medical services.
The organizations that are established to meet the health care needs of a particular population is called a health care system. As defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), a well-functioning health care system needs a sound financing mechanism, well-restored health facilities to deliver the best quality medicine and technologies and also well trained and adequately paid professionals.
Different Levels Of Medical Care
This organized process mainly consists of four levels of care such as primary care, secondary care tertiary care and Quaternary care.
The work professionals who act as the first point of consultation within a health care system are referred to as Primary Care. They may be a primary care physician such as a general practitioner and a family physician or a licensed practitioner such as a physiotherapist or a non-physician such as a nurse or a physician assist. Primary care plays a major role in the local community which consists of a wide scope of health care. Patients of all ages, all socioeconomic or geographic origins, patients with acute or chronic physical mental or social health issues are included in this category. In primary care, CONTINUITY is a key factor as the patients prefer to consult their usual practitioner for preventive care, health education or routine checkups. Hypertension, depression, asthma, arthritis, thyroid dysfunction, back pain, diabetes, asthma, and COPD are some examples of common chronic illnesses. Maternal and child care health services are also included here such as family planning and vaccinations.
Studies have shown that primary health care is really important in benefiting the health care system as a whole by offering better health outcomes, offering enhanced access to health care services and a decrease in the use of emergency department visits and hospitalization.
Then depending on the nature of the patient he/she may require secondary or tertiary healthcare.
Secondary care which can also be termed as acute care or hospital care includes the necessary treatments for a serious illness, injury or any other health condition requiring treatment for a short period. This is often found in a hospital emergency department. Skilled attendance during childbirth, medical imaging or intensive care also includes in secondary care. In countries with a mixed market health care system, physicians limit their secondary care practice while they first require the patients to see a primary care provider. In some other countries, the prior referral from another primary care physician or another specialist is required rather than a patient’s self-referral for secondary care. The professionals work in secondary care include physical therapists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, dietitians, cardiologists, respiratory therapists, etc.
Tertiary care refers to the highly specialized, extended medical care which involves complex and advanced techniques and procedures done by medical specialists. This may include coronary artery bypass surgery, some plastic surgeries, renal or hemodialysis, neurosurgeries, severe burn treatments or any other complex treatment. If a local hospital is not able to provide the required medical service you may be transferred to a highly specialized tertiary care medical center.
Quaternary care is an extension of tertiary care which is even more specialized and is unusual. Not all hospitals and medical centers provide quaternary care health services. This may include experimental medicine and procedures as well as highly specialized and uncommon surgeries.
Most of the time you will only go for either primary or secondary care while only during a severe disease, injury or a health condition you may seek the higher levels.
Whether you need a primary care practitioner or a specialist you may follow some guidelines so you can choose the right one.
- Asses your needs.
- Find a respectful communicator.
- Go on with a practitioner who works with your insurance.
- Consider hospital affiliation.
- Choose the right type of specialist checking their credentials and track records.
- Some further considerations such as your doctor’s location, age, gender, culture when coming to different aspects of issues.
When comes to a primary care doctor, find someone whom you can trust, communicate and develop a long time relationship with. But when it comes to a specialist though you should be able to communicate well, the need for a long time relationship depends according to your health condition.
Good communication is broken down into two factors such as the ability to manage expectations and respect for each other. A patient who is a good communicator will be mindful of the doctor’s busy schedule and limited time will be more focused and concerned regarding the health condition, will be concise in his communication and will ask only what is required.
A practitioner who is a good communicator will respect for his/her patient, will have the ability to share information in terms of which the patient will be able to understand, will carefully listen to the patient and doesn’t interrupt and also can effectively manage patient’s expectations.