Healthcare providers are all types of healthcare professionals who directly administer some type of medical aid to a patient. In general, a healthcare provider is trained in some type of healthcare role and will work in conjunction with other types of providers to bring about health and healing for people in their care. Healthcare providers may function in temporary situations or work within a healthcare facility that is permanently established.
Perhaps the most often cited example of a healthcare provider is the family doctor. This healthcare professional provides routine medical care to patients and deals with any short-term or long-term medical issues experienced by the patient. Even people who never enter a hospital normally see a doctor at least once or twice a year for annual checkups or to seek help with a cold or other minor health complaint.
Along with doctors, nurses are also healthcare providers who are immediately recognized by most people. Nurses may be classified in various categories such as a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, or nurse practitioner. The level of classification helps to define the scope or practice that the nurse may engage in and thus places limits on the types of medical assistance he or she can provide to a patient.
In the broadest sense, anyone who administers some type of healthcare to a patient can be viewed as a healthcare provider. Along with doctors and nurses in the traditional medical tradition, practitioners of alternative medical options also qualify as healthcare providers. This means that people who are licensed as homeopathic physicians, chiropractors, and sometimes herbalists may be rightly identified as healthcare providers. Even caretakers and child care providers who are trained to provide medical aid in emergency situations may be considered to be a healthcare provider in a limited sense.
Doctors and nurses may operate within an office environment or work within a hospital, health clinic, or other type of care facility. Patients are sometimes able to choose their healthcare providers at their discretion. However, some insurance providers offer programs that only pay full benefits when the insured party sees a healthcare provider that is considered to be “in network.” A couple of examples of this type of healthcare coverage are PPO and HMO insurance programs.