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Outpatient Care in the United States

The American healthcare delivery system is a complex structure with hundreds of professionals, settings, and centers that provide services to the public. At the same time, this system is constantly changing and developing, and over the past decade has changed the way services are provided. Outpatient care has become more in demand and more popular than inpatient care due to many economic and social factors. This paper will consider the US healthcare delivery system and the importance of outpatient care to understand its features and examine problematic aspects.

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There are many reasons and factors that influenced the spread of outpatient facilities. First, the cost of medical care in the United States can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is most often covered by insurance companies or the state. At the same time, outpatient care is cheaper, as the patient or provider pays directly for the services but not for the hospital stay.

Second, modern technology has made it possible to create a mobility environment for the provision of services and bring them directly to the home, and since most patients prefer home care, this approach has quickly spread (Shi & Singh, 2017). In addition, many elderly or residents of rural areas have also been able to access health care because of home services or the convenient location of health care facilities. Technology has also made it possible to shorten the recovery time for people and their hospital stays. Another factor is the appropriate clinic environment, in which patients feel more independent and free, while hospitals place many restrictions (Bahadori, Teymourzadeh, Ravangard, & Raadabadi, 2017). Moreover, even if patients are forced to stay in nursing clinics, such as a rehabilitation center or hospice, the services of the staff are aimed not only at treatment but also at the convenience of the patient. For these reasons, outpatient care is increasingly popular and developed among the American population.

Outpatient care also has both positive and negative aspects for patients and providers. The first advantage is the availability and a significant variety of services for patients. For example, Girard (2013) mentions such outpatient care types as groups of physicists of the same specialty, optometric and dentist offices, same-day surgery centers, rehabilitation clinics, sub-acute, and long-term care facilities. Such centers and clinics allow patients to receive medical care that hospitals cannot always provide according to their needs at a lower cost. For example, hospitals are often unable to offer quality palliative care due to limited resources, while hospices focus on this service. In addition, since many outpatient facilities are mobile, they can provide primary and secondary care to residents of rural areas, such as Indian reservations. Another advantage is the lower cost of outpatient care, which can be thousands of dollars cheaper and allows patients to spend the savings on recovery (“The difference between,” 2017). Thus, these features push more patients to use outpatient care.

However, outpatient care also has disadvantages that can hinder patient recovery. For example, during the rehabilitation period, many patients need constant care and supervision, but if they choose home visits of nurses or doctors rather than sub-acute and long-term care facilities, this can cause additional difficulties. In addition, not all insurances cover outpatient care, as “Health funds, by legislation, aren’t allowed to pay for any outpatient service where Medicare pays a benefit” (Cousins, 2018, para. 11). Consequently, some people need to look for additional funds to use outpatient care services. Barsky (2020) also highlights the lack of outpatient settings for patients with mental disorders and illnesses, such as long waiting times and noise, which can trigger uncomfortable feelings, and short visit times that interfere with a proper discussion of problems. However, most of these disadvantages can be addressed with additional effort and funding.

Furthermore, outpatient care benefits both the clients and the organizations that offer them. Patients receive more specialized and quality care at a lower cost in many cases of injury or illness. At the same time, outpatient care providers benefit due to a larger number of customers. Governments also benefit from cutting health care costs due to the lower price of services. However, the disadvantage for outpatient facilitates is that they face a significant workload, which forces staff to work harder and deal with managerial challenges.

At the same time, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) enabled more of the population to access health services and directed efforts to shift the focus to outpatient care. This approach was necessary to reduce health care costs through lower prices for services, but, at the same time, offer insurance to people who cannot afford it. In addition, the goal of outpatient settings is not only to treat disease but also to prevent disease, which also reduces healthcare costs (Shi & Singh, 2017). However, ACA has also caused overwhelming workloads due to an increase in patients’ number, which is a significant challenge for the healthcare system (Shi & Singh, 2017). This problem requires a solution, since the inability to receive medical care on time will prevent positive changes and cause new financial costs.

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In conclusion, the American health care system analysis demonstrates that outpatient care is an effective trend, which, however, has its drawbacks. While outpatient services are cheaper and more convenient for most patients, they can be unavailable or inappropriate in some cases. In addition, the ACA, which promotes the development of outpatient care, has resulted in overwhelming workloads, which can hinder quality service delivery. However, this approach to delivering healthcare services has many advantages that can bring significant benefits to society.


Bahadori. M., Teymourzadeh, E., Ravangard, R., & Raadabadi M. (2017). Factors affecting the overcrowding in outpatient healthcare. Journal of Education and Health Promotion, 6(21). Web.

Barsky, L.L. (2020). Understanding the misunderstood in emergency, hospital and outpatient care for special populations. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Cousins, L.E. (2018). Inpatient and outpatient services, and what you can claim on your health insurance. Health Agenda. Web.

Girard, K. (2013). Health care delivery system and occupation. Web.

Shi, L., & Singh, D.A. (2017). Outpatient services and primary care. In L. Shi & D.A. Singh (eds.), Essentials of US healthcare system (4th ed., pp. 167-176). Burlington, MA: Jones & Barlett Learning.

The difference between inpatient and outpatient care. (2017). Web.

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