What is outpatient care (with meaning and examples) - Med Student Guide by Commonwealth University
What is outpatient care (with meaning and examples) - Med Student Guide by Commonwealth University
What is outpatient care (with meaning and examples) – Med Student Guide by Commonwealth University

Mike is a 17 years old boy suffering from kidney failure that demands care and long-term treatment. But as soon as he visits a hospital, he becomes anxious and starts feeling homesick. His parents were really concerned since the number of hospital visits was increasing daily, and his treatment (dialysis) needed time. He needed to get dialysis done twice a week, and one visit takes at least 5-8 hours. Because of these frequent visits and his treatment together, Mike has also started facing anxiety issues which were further worsening his physical as well as mental health. 

Mike’s parents were in a fix since they were worried about their son’s health but turning a blind eye to the treatment requisites was also not an option. That’s when they found out about outpatient care through the WHO article, which read, “outpatient health care is defined as any professional encounter or contact, as an act of health service, between a non-hospitalized individual and a health worker responsible for the evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, or referral of that person in that encounter.” 

This helped Mike’s parents find a middle ground and made them opt for outpatient care services- an outpatient care facility for dialysis. Mike is now happy as he doesn’t have to visit hospitals anymore, and his parents are satisfied since their child is not anxious anymore. 

Like Mike, outpatient care has helped several patients as well as hospitals to prevent overcrowding while also providing top-class health services to the patients. 

Types of outpatient care facilities 

What Is Outpatient Care - Student Guide by Commonwealth University
What Is Outpatient Care – Student Guide by Commonwealth University

Imaging service facilities 

Centers where services like X-rays, MRI, Ultrasounds, and CT scans are performed. 

Specialized outpatient services

These are specialty clinics that provide outpatient care to the patient. These are facilities for providing care for cardiology, urology, etc. 

ASC (Ambulatory Surgery Center) 

Facilities that let the patient get discharged within a day after surgery. These facilities can be freestanding as well as hospital-associated. 

Urgent care centers 

These are the places that provide services to patients who need immediate help for an illness or injuries with lower perceptiveness for which an emergency department expedition is not needed. 

Emergency department facility 

They provide a wide array of emergency services to patients with high acuity illness or injury. They are also known as emergency rooms. 

Primary care facilities 

These are clinics where patients can meet and talk to their primary care physician without having to visit a hospital. 

Retail clinics 

These are the facilities that provide patients with walk-in clinic offerings, preventive health services, and treatment for non-complex ailments. 

Community health clinics 

Not everyone is fortunate enough to get themselves treated in top-class healthcare facilities. These community health facilities are to help patients with low income, migrants, or those with no health insurance.

What are inpatient care and outpatient care?

If a person has met with an accident and has a severe injury in the head, this person needs immediate care as well as will have to stay in the hospital for some time for post-surgery care. When a patient is admitted into the hospital for overnight care or a brief period of time, it is known as inpatient care. 

While people like Mike, whose treatment can take place without having to stay overnight at the hospital, can get outpatient care. 

The major difference between inpatient care and outpatient care is that an outpatient does not have to stay or use hospital facilities overnight. 

Inpatient care examples

  • Complex surgeries such as bypass surgeries and dissection repair. 
  • Sensitive illness or injury that requires contact supervision and care. 
  • Birth of a child. 
  • Rehabilitation services such as substance abuse. 

Outpatient care examples

  • Tuberculosis
  • Anemia
  • COVID-19 (In some cases) 
  • Skin allergies
  • X-rays, MRI, and CT scans
  • Radiation treatments

Costs for outpatient care

The primary contact for both the outpatients and inpatients is the fee of physician. In general, outpatients contact with less number of hospital staff than inpatients. Inpatients need intense care, and thus, they need a team of people to take care of them. 

At times, certain patients need intensive outpatient care (consider Mike’s example) as well, but that could be handled well by the outpatient care facilities themselves. 

Even though the cost between inpatient and outpatient care differs widely but the following costs remain the same: 

  • Administration costs 
  • Cost of medicines and other pharmacy products
  • Lab test costs
  • Costs of nurses, specialists, technicians, etc. 
  • Cost of the equipment

Importance of outpatient care

There has been a tremendous increase in the number of outpatients over the last few years. COVID-19 also showed the importance of good outpatient service facilities to us. Hospitals were falling short of beds, medicines, as well as valuable resources like doctors and nurses. Outpatient care helped people recover in healthy surroundings as well as avoid mental stress by staying in hospitals crowded with severe patients. 

Why is outpatient care vital? 

  • By avoiding overnight stays at the hospital, outpatient care can be very affordable; people with low incomes or people who cannot afford expensive hospital stays can utilize outpatient care. 
  • Patients can recover in the comfort of their homes, surrounded by family members. 
  • People with chronic diseases can get themselves treated without having to visit hospitals every now and then. 
  • Outpatient care stops overcrowding at the hospital, saving the scarce beds for the needy. 

Become a resource for society: start your medical career at Commonwealth University

If you want to contribute to society and become a medical practitioner, start your journey now at Commonwealth University College Of Medicine. At Commonwealth University, you get hands-on training along with the US-based medical curriculum and international clinical training. To apply or inquire about admissions, you can contact the student counseling team online.

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