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Outpatient vs Hospital Services


The USA is the recognized world leader in the application of high technology and innovations in the health care system. Medical industry of the country produces and supplies the market with a variety of medical services, access to which is open, mainly through private health insurance existing under the state law that defines the incentives and the direction of its development. The US health care system is introduced by the independent services on three main levels: family medicine, hospital care, and public health. Medical services in the USA are provided by private individuals and legal entities. Various commercial, charitable and government organizations offer patients both outpatient and inpatient services (Niles, 2010).

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The Roles of Outpatient Services and Hospitals

Outpatient services are various medical procedures ensured to a patient, who attend the physician but does not stay in the hospital for a night. A patient just visits the clinics for consultation, examination or some medical procedures. Nowadays, they provide a wide range of different kinds of treatment concerning primary care, surgery, mental health, rehabilitation, etc. It is rather convenient for patients, which have a lack of time and money for prolonged inpatient medical care of high-quality (Niles, 2010).

In comparison with outpatient services, hospitals are intended for long-term treatment, which demand a continual patient’s presence in health care facility (Schulte, 2012). This type of medical services is aimed at the treatment of some serious traumas and injuries. A treatment plan is assigned to a patient using the inpatient health care services. This plan considers medical procedures according to the needs of a patient on the basis of his or her symptoms and diagnoses (Healey & Evans, 2014).

The main advantage of the outpatient services is that person may receive complex treatment not changing daily plans and lifestyle. It is cheaper in comparison with hospitals and people with relatively low incomes can afford it. Today, it provides the services similar to those provided by the hospitals. Inpatient services register patients officially in the hospital. This type of medical treatment is expensive service. Often, people admitted to the hospitals have rather serious diagnoses, which demand thorough examination and further medical attention from the staff of the hospital. Patients can make the choice between the outpatient and inpatient services if his or her diagnoses allow doing it (Schulte, 2012). Even some surgical operations may be conducted without inpatient hospitalization. In the US, however, as in other countries, the concept of ambulatory care includes the provision of health services without hospitalization, accounting for a large share of health care provision. Treatment at home is mainly produced by nursing organizations.

Outpatient Services and Hospitals in Historical Retrospective

At the end of XX century, the US health care system underwent some structural changes. There was a shift from inpatient hospitals to outpatient services, which appeared to be more advantageous due to low prices and availability of checkups and medical procedures to people with different socioeconomic backgrounds. Some time ago, there were only physicians’ paychecks of extremely high cost and long stays. Many people could not afford the services of therapist or nurse practitioner. However, they had no time for long stays. Today the role of outpatient services is of high significance for people, who want to get treatment of high quality without serious shifts in their daily schedule. In 1996, there were the so-called services of concierge medicine providing an expanded range of services by the personal physician for the prepayment.

Functions of Outpatient Services and Hospitals

Functions of Outpatient Services Functions of Hospitals
  • To provide the treatment of patients with diagnoses that may be cured by outpatient services;
  • To provide the qualified care for registered patients;
  • To determine an early diagnosis with the help of different medical facilities; to provide preventive treatment.
  • To provide patient with necessary medical equipment, medicine, and procedures.
  • To adopt the plan of treatment to the needs and demands of patients.
  • To create a comfortable, homelike atmosphere to the patient; to satisfy the basic everyday needs of patients.

The approach of hospital services is more patient-oriented. However, the outpatient services use the patient-empowerment method of treatment.

Health Provider for Underserved Populations

Due to a high quality of treatment for low prices, outpatient services are more appropriate and effective for curing people with low incomes. Disadvantaged people have the opportunity to combine work with the treatment process. Inpatient services are rather expensive and inaccessible for underserved people.

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Financial Challenges of Both Services

Outpatient service is one of the constituents of hospitals. The majority of outpatient programs are financed by inpatient services. Due to this, financial challenges of hospitals influence the funding of outpatient services. Today tendency in the development of health care system makes them more profit-oriented. It draws both medical services less value-based (Jonas, Goldsteen, Goldsteen, & Jonas, 2013).


Nowadays the US health care system provides the patients with a wide range of medical programs and services of high-quality. People with different financial opportunity are ensured with medical attention and nursing. Today, outpatient services are gradually replacing inpatient treatment due to its accessibility and affordable costs.

Reference List

Jonas, S., Goldsteen, R., Goldsteen, K., & Jonas, S. (2013). Jonas’ introduction to the U.S. health care system. New York: Springer Pub.

Healey, B., & Evans, T. (2014). Introduction to Health Care Services. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Niles, N. (2010). Basics of the U.S. health care system. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Schulte, M. (2012). Healthcare Delivery in the U.S.A. Hoboken: CRC Press.

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