Care Providers are also known as Health Care Providers refer to a person or organization that provides healthcare service to individuals. Many different care providers offer a range of services – from primary and hospital care to diagnostic, rehabilitative, preventative, and palliative care.

Health providers play numerous roles in the overall well-being of their patients. In addition to assisting with physical needs, health care providers offer advice and direction for illness prevention and injury. In addition, administrative health care providers create an environment that responds to the community’s health care needs and acts as liaisons between patients and insurance companies for billing and payments.

Evaluation

Many health care providers are involved in the evaluation of disease and injury. From the paramedic who responds to a call for help to the lab technician who verifies the results of a blood test, every provider along the way works to find the cause of a patient’s condition. Nurses often take patient histories to look for clues as to the grounds of the current situation. At the same time, the doctors diagnose disease and injury. X-ray technicians, mental health professionals, and specialists often collaborate to make assessments.

Treatment

Health care providers deliver necessary treatment through a variety of venues. For example, pharmacists fill the treating physician’s medication orders who diagnose the patient and prescribes a treatment plan. In addition, physical therapists work with patients’ physical rehabilitation, while psychologists and psychiatrists treat emotional and mental disorders.

Care

Short- and long-term care are provided by a host of health care providers, from doctors and nurses to nurses’ aides and personal care assistants. Health care providers may become an integral part of an ailing person’s life and present for most activities. Health care workers specializing in hospice care attend to the needs of the dying. At the same time, those involved in midwifery accompany women through the childbirth process.

Prevention

Health care providers take on the role of educators as well as healers. For example, dentists train patients to brush and floss daily to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Physical therapists provide patients with exercise plans and tools to avoid further injuries. Nutritionists help patients form healthy eating patterns, and counselors give patients an outlet for their emotional issues to prevent breakdowns.

Administration

An entire cadre of health care professionals operates the facilities that offer health care services to the community. They employ administrators, billing clerks, receptionists, and managers to keep the operations running for the medical staff and their patients. Health care providers in administration make sure that laws and guidelines are followed, and insurance policies are met to pay for patient care. In addition, they keep critical medical records and protect patient privacy.

Who is on the healthcare team?

Healthcare is a team effort. Each healthcare provider is like a member of the team with a particular role. Some team members are doctors or technicians who help diagnose disease. Others are experts who treat disease or care for patients’ physical and emotional needs.

In this tutorial part, you will learn about different healthcare providers’ types, jobs, and roles on the healthcare team. You will also know who the team members care for patients with various chronic diseases. Healthcare team members we will look at include:

  • Doctors
  • Physician Assistants
  • Nurses
  • Pharmacists
  • Dentists
  • Technologists and technicians
  • Therapists and rehabilitation specialists
  • Emotional, social, and spiritual support providers
  • Administrative and support staff
  • Community health workers and patient navigators

Healthcare Team for a Visit with a Primary Care Provider (PCP)

When patients visit their primary care provider (PCP), the visit involves many more people than just the doctor. Here’s an example of healthcare professionals involved in a simple PCP visit:

  • Members of the administrative staff schedule the appointment, find the medical record, make a reminder call, greet the patient and verify insurance information.
  • A nurse or medical assistant records the patient’s weight and vital signs, escorts the patient to an exam room, and documents the reason for the visit.
  • The PCP may be a doctor, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner who examines and talks with the patient to develop a diagnosis and plan of care.
  • If a lab or radiology test is ordered, a technician performs the test. Administrative staff may help ship out the sample (blood, skin, saliva). A lab will perform the analysis and write up the test results. The technician, nurse, or doctor will discuss the results with the patient. If treatment, such as medication, is prescribed, a pharmacist fills the prescription.
  • Medical billing experts then bill the patient’s insurance for the office visit and either the test or the medication.

Doctors

Doctors are critical members of the healthcare team. 

  • Primary care doctors

When patients need medical care, they first go to primary care doctors. Primary care doctors focus on preventive healthcare. This includes regular check-ups, disease screening tests, immunizations, and health counseling. Primary care doctors may be family practitioners, internal medicine, or Osteopathic Doctors (OD’s). Pediatricians also provide primary care for babies, children, and teenagers. In addition, primary care pediatricians treat day-to-day illnesses and provide preventive care such as minor injuries, viral infections, immunizations, and check-ups.

  • Specialists

Specialists diagnose and treat conditions that require a particular area of knowledge. Patients may see a specialist diagnose or treat a specific short-term condition or, if they have a chronic disease, they may see a specialist on an ongoing basis. Examples of specialties include endocrinology, dermatology, and obstetrics.

Physician Assistants (PAs)

Physician’s Assistants are licensed to practice medicine and are supervised by a doctor. Their training is similar to a doctor’s, but they do not complete an internship or residency. Like a medical doctor, a physician’s assistant can perform physical exams, order tests, diagnose illnesses, prescribe medicine, assist in surgery, and provide preventive Healthcare counseling. Education for PA’s includes a 4-year degree plus a 2-year Physician Assistant program.

Nurses

Nurses work closely with patients. A nurse’s job duties depend on their education, area of specialty, and work setting. Types of nurses include:

  • Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) are also called Licensed Vocation Nurses. They train for about one year at a community college or vocational school and are licensed by their state.
  • Their state licenses are Registered Nurses (RN’s). They may have completed a diploma program, an associate’s (2-year) degree, or a bachelor’s (4-year) degree.
  • Advanced Practice Nurses are nurses who have more education and experience than RN’s. Advanced practice nurses are clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners.

Pharmacists

Pharmacists give patients medicines that are prescribed or recommended by a doctor. They tell patients how to use drugs and answer questions about side effects. Sometimes pharmacists help doctors choose which medicines to give patients and let doctors know if drug combinations may interact and harm patients.

Pharmacists have a PharmD degree and are licensed by the state. PharmD education may take five or six years and is a combination of college courses and pharmacy school. Pharmacists who work in a clinical setting, such as a hospital or long-term care facility, must also complete 1-2 years of residency.