Activity of a healthcare provider who acts as a first point of consultation for all patients. Generally, primary care practitioners are based in the community, as opposed to the hospital and refer to specialists in hospital or outpatient clinics for more complex or inpatient care. These can be called General Practitioners (GPs), Family Doctors or local doctors etc.
Hospital care (Secondary or Tertiary healthcare)
Hospitals usually provide inpatient and outpatient services delivered by medical specialists who generally do not have first contact with patients, e.g. cardiologists, urologists and dermatologists.
A tertiary health centre provides specialised consultative care, usually on referral from primary or secondary medical care personnel, by specialists working in a centre that has facilities for special investigation and treatment. Examples include: specialist cancer care, neurosurgery (brain surgery), burns care and plastic surgery. Many tertiary centres also provide secondary care too for their immediate catchment area population.
Where primary care is still developing or there is no integration between primary and specialist care services, patients may self-refer to secondary or tertiary care providers for specialist health care needs or use them as primary care providers. India is currently in such a situation.