Health services are the organizations and professionals that help people stay healthy. They include medical, surgical and emergency care as well as preventative, rehabilitative and long-term care. Health services can be provided by government, non-profit and private entities as well as religious and community organizations. Health services are often a vital part of an individual’s health insurance plans and may be free or based on a sliding fee scale. These health services aim to improve access, promote positive outcomes and reduce financial strain on patients, families and communities.
The field of health services research encompasses studies on the organization, financing, utilization and evaluation of healthcare. It incorporates epidemiologic and other analytic sciences such as sociological and economic research. Health service researchers study both the supply and demand of healthcare services, including hospital services, physician practices, ambulatory services, home care, and other residential health facilities.
In socialized healthcare systems, like the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, all healthcare is paid for with taxation and delivered by the state. Healthcare facilities are typically government-owned and healthcare providers are employed by the state. This type of healthcare system is viewed as a public good, much like schools and roads.
A patient’s health needs are a complex mix of bio-psycho-social factors and should be addressed by healthcare providers that work together to provide integrated, coordinated care. The current model of siloed healthcare – with distinct disciplines working independently – is inefficient and leads to increased costs. To address this issue, new models of integrated care are being developed to streamline the delivery of health services.
Some of these new health services focus on helping individuals to manage their own care, rather than relying on doctors and nurses. For example, telehealth is an increasingly popular tool to support self-care for patients with chronic conditions. This allows individuals to receive support from a trained healthcare professional via phone or video chat, which can be helpful when someone is at home, not feeling well or traveling long distances for appointments.
Other health services focus on promoting public health and protecting individuals from infectious disease. This includes activities such as food safety surveillance, distribution of condoms and needle exchange programs. These health services can be a powerful tool to protect individuals from diseases and reduce the burden of infectious disease on society.
Many people rely on health services to keep them healthy and active, whether it’s primary care, rehabilitative care or health education. These services are designed to meet a variety of needs, and can range from screenings for certain diseases to managing a chronic condition like diabetes. The best health services are accessible, high quality and patient-centered. These are the types of services that will be in greatest demand as more people gain access to health coverage through the Affordable Care Act and other coverage programs. These are the services that will help to improve our nation’s health and wellbeing. It’s important to make sure we continue to invest in these essential public health services, and remove the barriers that prevent everyone from achieving their full potential for optimal health.