Ambulatory care or outpatient care is medical care provided on an outpatient basis, including diagnosis, observation, consultation, treatment, intervention, and rehabilitation services. This care can include advanced medical technology and procedures even when provided outside of hospitals.
Ambulatory care sensitive conditions are health conditions where appropriate ambulatory care prevents or reduces the need for hospital admission (or inpatient care), such as diabetes or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Many medical investigations and treatments for acute and chronic illnesses and preventive health care can be performed on an ambulatory basis, including minor surgical and medical procedures, most types of dental services, dermatology services, and many types of diagnostic procedures (i.e. blood tests, X-rays, endoscopy and biopsy procedures of superficial organs). Other types of ambulatory care services include emergency visits, rehabilitation visits, and in some cases telephone consultations.
Sites where ambulatory care can be delivered include
- An examination room in a doctor's office.
- Doctor's surgeries (= known as doctor's offices). This is the most common site for the delivery of ambulatory care in many countries, and usually consists of a physician's visit. Physicians of many specialties (family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics, gynaecology, cardiology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, ophthalmology, and dermatology) deliver ambulatory care.
- Clinics: including ambulatory care clinics, polyclinics, ambulatory surgery centers, and urgent care centers.
- Hospitals: including emergency departments and other hospital-based services such as same day surgery services and mental health services.
- Non-medical institution-based settings: including school and prison health; vision, dental and pharmaceutical care.
- Non-institutional settings: i.e. mass childhood immunization campaigns using community health workers.
Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Internet. Accessed on May 16, 2016.