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Medical Facilities – Hospitals, Clinics and Medical Centers

Medical facilities have been central establishments in developed and developing societies alike since ancient times.

They provide essential aid and hope for patients, greatly improving the quality of life and our general welfare. Nowadays we hardly find any human settlement without a health care unit or medical center offering professional and generally available medical services, in fact, the number of medical facilities in a region is widely considered a clear indicator of its prosperity.

Types of medical facilities: differences, similarities and functions

Health institutions have become such a natural part of life that we tend to forget to recognize and appreciate their presence. 

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After all, does not life usually start and end in a medical center? Is it not the place we are saved and healed? In any case, medical facilities are worth a closer look. First and foremost let us give a brief description of the existing types of medical facilities, highlighting the difference between terms we often use interchangeably, although they refer to different kinds of medical centers. In what does the difference lie in when we talk about a hospital, a clinic, a medical centre? Health care institutions may vary in size, ownership, funding, specialization and procedures:

• Hospitals: a publicly financed health institution with professional medical personnel and special equipment. We can distinguish general hospitals, divided into specialized departments, an emergency unit and ambulance services. They generally offer inpatient (patients are admitted for longer therapies) and outpatient services (patients are diagnosed and treated, but do not stay overnight). There are also many specialized hospitals, focused on rehabilitation, psychiatric treatment, emergency services or doctor training.

• Clinics: A clinic is a medical facility with considerably smaller dimensions than a hospital, and most of the time they only offer outpatient treatment. They are more often in private ownership and therefore operated as for-profit businesses.

• Health Centers: a highly equipped type of hospital where the facilities support high efficiency emergency services or very specialized treatment for patients who suffer a life-threatening injury or need intensive attention.

Globalizing Health Care

In the age of globalization and information the health sector is reaping increasing benefits from the open borders. Many patients decide to seek medical attention in foreign hospitals for a number of reasons, principally based on considerations of costs, quality or availability of health care services. In this way, all modern medical facilities need to be prepared for a future when they will have to respond to the needs of foreign patients.

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