A private hospital funds operations through direct payments from patients and insurance providers, and does not receive public money. Such facilities can offer a variety of services to members of the public. The lack of reliance on government funds means that they are not required to meet specific targets set for public hospitals, which have a mandate to make care available to low-income patients and meet other requirements. These organizations are usually run as for-profit institutions.
At private facilities, virtually everything in the facility’s operations is funded through payments from patients and their insurance providers. These institutions do not receive grants from public agencies, although they may see patients who use public assistance to pay for treatment. Private hospitals may include services like pharmacies, physical therapy centers, diagnostic imaging centers, and other allied medical services. These can increase the services available for patients and generate more income for the facility.
Some are for-profit institutions and may be publicly traded, with an elected board and shares available on the open market. They can also operate as part of an allied group of health centers. This allows patients to receive care through a network when they travel, or to visit facilities with different services when their home hospitals do not meet their specific needs. At a private hospital, people have access to the same kinds of treatments they can get at a public facility, and sometimes may be able to get services not widely available to the general public.
Public hospitals usually need to meet public service mandates. The government provides financial assistance to ensure that health care will be provided to as much of the population as possible, and may require them to meet staffing targets, perform outreach to low-income individuals, and engage in other activities like public education. A private hospital does not have these regulatory burdens because it is run as a private enterprise. It needs to meet health and safety standards as a health care provider, but isn’t obliged to make services readily available to the public.
Though there is no specific public mandate at a private hospital, some can and do engage in public outreach for public relations purposes. This can include activities like donating services to low-income children or providing community education to reduce the rates of preventable diseases. A private hospital may also engage in research and could train doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals.