Helthcare should be available to all people worldwide through various institutions and systems. A healthcare system, sometimes termed health system, includes institutions, people and resources that provide healthcare services to the community within a geographical area. Every nation designs and develops its healthcare system in accordance with the needs of the population it serves and available resources. Therefore, the provision of medical care differs from one country to another in terms of funding sources and financial arrangements, organisation and the standard of health care. Despite the differences, primary health care and public health measures are the common elements in almost all systems.
Hospital is the most familiar healthcare institution providing sophisticated medical care. The patients of all ages with all kinds of illnesses and medical conditions are treated in the general, or community, hospital. They usually have acute problems requiring short-term care and are discharged after one or more days. On the other hand, there are hospitals that provide more specialised care. Specialised hospitals are for patients suffering from a specific chronic illness requiring long-term stay or reserved for patients of specific age groups, like children. Most hospitals worldwide are operated and finaced by the governement of their country. Also, there are hospitals operated as a profit making organisations termed proprietary or private hospitals.
A person who is formally admitted to a healthcare facility to receive constant medical attention is called an inpatient. Outpatient facilities are available for those who need not be formally admitted to a hospital, as well. An outpatient visits the hospital only as the need arises. For instance, a non-admitted patient goes to hospital for consultation, a follow-up treatment after a hospital stay, or to undergo physical or occupational therapy.
In addition to hospitals, there are other institutions providing healthcare. From a global perspective, they are very diverse in number and types. In some countries, the first point of contact with medical professionals usually happens at primary healthcare centers. These facilities include clincics, doctor’s offices, uregent care centers that provide outpatient medical, nursing, dental and other types of services. Medical nursing homes have accomodation facilities and provide live-in arrangements to the sick or convalescing patients.
Irrespective of the specificities of a system, it is important that the standards of healthcare and medical performance are regulated and maintained. Generally, only licenced medical professionals can practice, and the healthcare institutions should be accredited.
Nowadays, a very profound problem is the access to medical care and the costs of that care. The system of universal healthcare is one approach to this problem. Within this system all members of the population have access to adequate medical care. The costs are borne out of taxes. Where there is no such system, health insurance plans serve a similar purpose. To be insured, a person pays a regular fee to the insurance company. Although no system is perfectly able to provide adequate care for all citizens, the ultimate goal of the healthcare institutions is to provide adequate medical care to the greatest possible number of people.