What Exactly Is Ambulatory Care?

In the past, when you would have surgery, you were most likely to spend a couple of days recovering in the hospital. As medicine advanced, people are now able to have their gallbladder removed and be home within a few hours. These types of surgeries are performed in ambulatory care centers, also referred to as outpatient care centers. Ambulatory care is not just performed in these centers.

hospital room with multiple beds
Ambulatory services are not just considered in hospitals. These services can be administered in different places.

Where Ambulatory Care Is Provided

Ambulatory services have been consistently on the rise. It is referred to as any medical services that is not performed in a hospital or any facility that requires admission. These medical services are performed are provided in:

  • Physician offices, and other health care professionals
  • Ambulatory surgical centers
  • Hospital outpatient departments
  • Urgent care clinics
  • Speciality clinics such as a dialysis center

Typically, ambulatory care centers are emergency departments that are part of health care systems. They offer a full range of medical services with observation beds, lab capabilities, and imaging. 

Outpatient Services

Services in ambulatory centers range from wellness, to surgery, and rehabilitation. All kinds of healthcare professionals provide ambulatory care, this includes doctors, RN’s, LPN’s, physical therapists, and surgical and medical lab techs. A breakdown of the different services include:

  • Wellness– Any prevention services are considered ambulatory wellness services. These services can be administered by primary care physicians, counseling clinics for mental health, ambulatory surgical centers, emergency room, outpatient hospital department,
  • Diagnosis– Diagnostic services include X-Rays, lab work, blood tests, MRIs, screenings for cancer,
    a hallway with wheelchairs lined up behind one another
    Occupational and physical therapy are considered ambulatory care

    mammograms, CT scans, and ultrasound imaging.

  • Treatment– Same day surgeries are a big part of ambulatory care, these can include removing gallbladder, wrist or knee surgery, biopsies, colonoscopies, and other minor surgical procedures. Other treatments include chemotherapy, substance abuse, and other forms of therapy.
  • Rehab– Occupational and physical therapy are considered ambulatory care. This also includes drug and alcohol rehabilitation, and even telemedicine!

On The Rise

Hospitals are utilizing ambulatory care centers and pushing a lot of services to outpatient facilities. Outpatient visits rose from 624 million to 675 million in 2008, and have been steadily increasing. These services are seen as a progressively good thing for patients. 

Healthcare professionals feel they are able to provide more personalized care. Patients are able to go home the same day and able to get back to activities quicker. Not having to stay in the hospital overnight means more money being saved, as well as time. The medical field continues to advance and expand, making these same day services readily available. It is one of the essential health benefits that is covered under the ACA plans, as well as other plans.

About The Author:
Cassandra Love

With over a decade of helpful content experience Cassandra has dedicated her career to making sure people have access to relevant, easy to understand, and valuable information. After realizing a huge knowledge gap Cassandra spent years researching and working with health insurance companies to create accessible guides and articles to walk anyone through every aspect of the insurance process.

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