Health care, or healthcare, refers to the treatment and management of illness, and the preservation of health through services offered by the medical, pharmaceutical, dental, clinical laboratory sciences (in vitro diagnostics), nursing, and allied health professions. Health care embraces all the goods and services designed to promote health, including “preventive, curative and palliative interventions, whether directed to individuals or to populations”.
Before the term health care became popular, English-speakers referred to medicine or to the health sector and spoke of the treatment and prevention of illness and disease.
A health care provider or health professional is an organization or person who delivers proper health care in a systematic way professionally to any individual in need of health care services. A health care provider could be government, the health care industry, a health care equipment company, an institution such as a hospital or medical laboratory, physicians, dentists, support staff, nurses, therapists, psychologists, pharmacists, chiropractors, and optometrists.
Emergency medicine is a speciality of medicine that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of acute illnesses and injuries that require immediate medical attention. While not usually providing long-term or continuing care, emergency medicine physicians diagnose a wide array of pathology and undertake acute interventions to stabilize the patient. These professionals practice in hospital emergency departments, in the prehospital setting via emergency medical service and other locations where initial medical treatment of illness takes place. Just as clinicians operate by immediacy rules under large emergency systems, emergency practioniers aim to diagnose emergent conditions and stabilize the patient for definitive care.
Chronic care management encompasses the oversight and education activities conducted by professionals to help patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, lupus, multiple sclerosis and sleep apnea learn to understand their condition and live successfully with it. This term is equivalent to disease management (health) for chronic conditions. The work involves motivating patients to persist in necessary therapies and interventions and helping them to achieve an ongoing, reasonable quality of life.
Patient safety is a new healthcare discipline that emphasizes the reporting, analysis, and prevention of medical error that often lead to adverse healthcare events. The frequency and magnitude of avoidable adverse patient events was not well known until the 1990s, when multiple countries reported staggering numbers of patients harmed and killed by medical errors. Recognizing that healthcare errors impact 1 in every 10 patients around the world, the World Health Organization calls patient safety an endemic concern. Indeed, patient safety has emerged as a distinct healthcare discipline supported by an immature yet developing scientific framework. There is a significant transdisciplinary body of theoretical and research literature that informs the science of patient safety. The resulting patient safety knowledge continually informs improvement efforts such as: applying lessons learned from business and industry, adopting innovative technologies, educating providers and consumers, enhancing error reporting systems, and developing new economic incentives. This patient safety page provides an evidence-based and peer-reviewed forum to learn about contemporary error and adverse event knowledge.