Primary, Secondary, And Tertiary Hospital: What’s The Difference?

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Communities have a wide range of healthcare and medical needs, addressing which may require the expertise of healthcare providers and the use of various medical facilities and supplies. Now, making quality healthcare services equitably accessible is still a complex challenge since a population’s medical needs can change from time to time and there are only so many healthcare professionals and medical tools to go around. One way to overcome these limitations and ensure that every individual has a better chance of accessing the exact medical services they need is to offer different levels of care. As such, patients may find that they are dealing with a primary, secondary, or tertiary hospital.

Hospitals provide medical care and serve an essential role in their respective service areas, but that doesn’t mean they’re all cut from the same cloth. If you’re looking for a hospital that can provide you with the services you need, you can make this job easier by checking the level of care that a hospital is capable of offering. Different places can have different standards for the hospitals that make up their healthcare system, but this is what you have to know in general:

Primary Hospital

Hospitals that focus on providing primary healthcare see patients who have everyday health concerns. People- and community-centred, a primary hospital takes a comprehensive or whole-society approach to treating their patients and provides resources for addressing concerns that affect one’s physical, social, and mental health. On top of treating diseases that impact human health, primary hospitals are also concerned with preventing the spread of illnesses in their respective communities, providing palliative care, and helping patients and their families take charge of their own health at any point in their life.

In non-emergency cases, these facilities typically serve as the first point of contact between the members of their community and the medical system at large. People who have ailments often look for a general practitioner or family physician in their primary hospital for a check-up. The general practitioner, in turn, can administer treatment, request tests, or direct the patient to a specialist who can look more closely into their health concerns. In addition to a GP, a primary hospital can also have other specialists on board who can address the everyday health concerns of people of all ages and backgrounds.

Secondary Hospital

A person who has more specific health concerns may be directed by their GP to a secondary hospital that houses specialists in different medical fields such as endocrinology, cardiology, rheumatology, and dermatology. The services that one can expect from a primary hospital are present in secondary hospitals, but a secondary hospital often sees patients with more complex health conditions or those who need more extensive medical support. These facilities can also provide acute care to emergency patients, those who are giving birth, or those who need intensive medical attention.

In some places, it’s a must to be seen by a general practitioner before a patient can schedule a check-up with a specialist doctor, but there are also places where this isn’t necessary. In case the patient requires advanced medical care, the specialists in a secondary hospital can endorse them to professionals who can provide them with the exact help they need.

Tertiary Hospital

Tertiary hospitals offer the highest level of specialised care that a patient can expect from the medical system. This type of facility hosts medical consultants from a wide range of specialities and has state-of-the-art tools and equipment to carry out and support complex diagnostics, treatments, and procedures. Often, the patients brought to such a facility require long-term care and complicated treatments or procedures such as major surgeries, transplants, treatment for severe burns or injuries, or specialist cancer management.

A Coordinated System with Many Parts

Smaller medical organisations like clinics may also have their areas of specialisation. Familiarity with these healthcare facilities and their respective focus areas can help patients immediately access the services and tools they need to address their medical issues and possibly lead healthier lives. For example, there are clinics that specialize in dealing with mental health issues, those that focus on providing dialysis equipment and services to their patients, and those that offer expert care and treatment for sexual and reproductive health issues. Patients can be directed to these specialist clinics by their general physicians, but they can also head directly to these facilities if they are cognizant of the general nature of their condition.

Despite the seemingly numerous partitions between healthcare specialisations and medical facility types, it’s the aim of every healthcare professional to provide their patients with continuity of care. By partnering with the person they are treating and coordinating with experts from other areas of specialisation, healthcare providers can provide their patients with the best chance to live healthy and happy lives as individuals and as members of the community.

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