What is health care?

Health care (often writ "healthcare" in HMO titles, etc.) is, broadly speaking, the attention given a person as regards the medical condition or health of that person. This means that health care can include self-treatment, the administration of a bandaid to a scraped knee by Mom, or a craniotomy. Health care more specifically refers to the system of medical treatment that exists within a culture. The formal systems of health care that have built up over the millenia of human civilization have resulted in extended lifespans, and higher quality of life. In general, the more prosperous a country or culture, the better its systems for providing health care to its citizens or members.

Health care providers

"Provider" is a relatively new term used to group physicians in with other professions which deal primarily with delivering health care. Besides doctors and nurses, "health care provider" can include:

and a myriad of other specialty jobs and professions related to medical care. As technology advances and new and better (and more expensive) treatments arise, the number of people involved in the care of patients continues to increase.

Where is health care performed?

Medical care can be provided in many different ways and at almost any conceivable location. Beginning with care at the lowest level of involvement and proceeding to the highest, these locations may include:

Who gets health care?

Health care generally begins at birth and always ends at death. Technology has extended that timeline in one direction, however, and intrauterine fetal surgery for conditions such as spina bifida is becoming more common. The traditional general physician's practice of yesteryear has splintered into age-defined strata. neonatologists, pediatricians, adolescent medicine specialists, and geriatricians all specialise in specific age groups. The geriatric age group in particular is probably the fastest-growing patient population due to increased average lifespans.

The future of health care

As technology grows more powerful and diagnostic tests more sensitive, medicine will become ever more complex and specialized. New drugs and treatments are released regularly, long surpassing the capacity of a single person to absorb in a lifetime. The future rests in our understanding of the genetic basis of disease and its applications in treatment, in the improvement of non-invasive treatments such as targeted drug therapy, in continued research into the treatment of infectious disease, particularly viral illnesses, and in long-term studies which will enhance both the treatment of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and increase our knowledge of how to prevent the onset of disease. The best genetic repairs and tissue regeneration techniques, however, will never overcome the human tendency to abuse, neglect, injure, mistreat and otherwise carelessly handle our own bodies. Doctors and other health care providers will always have jobs.

None - I made this all up straight from memory...

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