We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Secondary Care?

Lainie Petersen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

In medicine, secondary care refers to services provided by health care specialists to patients following a referral from a primary care provider. Secondary care providers usually have a narrow scope of practice in treating specific conditions or providing specific types of care and advice. While some providers of secondary care may accept patients directly, others may work only with patients referred by primary health care workers and doctors.

When people seek health care services, they typically work with a primary care provider. This is a health care professional who is trained in addressing the general health needs of a patient. While many primary care providers are physicians, including internists and family practice doctors, other providers of primary care include nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Primary health care includes regular physical examinations and testing, as well as treating common injuries and ailments. When a more serious health issue arises in a patient, his primary care practitioner will often refer him to a provider of secondary care.

These providers include physicians who specialize in specific body systems. For example, a primary care doctor may refer a patient with suspected heart trouble to a cardiologist, while a patient with a skin condition may be sent to a dermatologist. In some cases, a provider of secondary care may not be a physician, but practices another health care modality, such as nutrition or physical therapy.

In cases where the care provider believes that a patient requires even more specialized care, she may make a referral to a tertiary care practitioner, who has an even more specialized area of practice. If the patient's condition is extremely serious or his condition is very unusual, quaternary care may be provided in the form of experimental treatments and advanced diagnostic techniques.

The ability of patients to directly access the services of a secondary care provider depend on the health care system to which they have access. For example, in government-sponsored health care systems, such as in the United Kingdom, patients typically work with a primary care physician, also known as a general practitioner or a GP, who makes all referrals to providers of specialized care. In the United States, access to secondary care providers depends largely on a patient's insurance plan as well as a provider's own business policy. While some insurance plans require patients to obtain referrals through their primary care provider, others allow patients to refer themselves directly to specialist care.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Lainie Petersen
By Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen, a talented writer, copywriter, and content creator, brings her diverse skill set to her role as an editor. With a unique educational background, she crafts engaging content and hosts podcasts and radio shows, showcasing her versatility as a media and communication professional. Her ability to understand and connect with audiences makes her a valuable asset to any media organization.
Discussion Comments
Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen, a talented writer, copywriter, and content creator, brings her diverse skill set to her role as an...
Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.