Clinics offer a variety of outpatient options. They are very convenient as they are often situated in rural areas where hospitals are not close by. Most community clinics tend to offer care at lower costs than hospitals or other facilities. However, if you need a specialist clinic it may cost you more. It is important to know what type of service, care, or doctor you need. You don’t want to waste time or money going from one to the other until you find the right one.
There are 4 main types of clinics. The clinic you need will depend on your condition or care needs. The description of these four types of clinics should help you better determine which type you need. If you feel unsure about where you should go, phone the clinic you think is right and ask them if they offer the services that you need. The types are:
1. Free Clinics. Free clinics are volunteer-based. They offer medical, dental and other basic health services. They are low-cost health care facilities and sometimes also offer care free of charge to people who qualify for it and meet the requirements for such an allowance. They offer services whether they receive payment or not and are tax-exempt. Acute, primary, and chronic care are offered at these clinics. They do not offer services for developing conditions and will refer these to other clinics, hospitals, or doctors. Not all free clinics have the same setup or services. Some may have dental care services and other not. Some may have pharmacies on site, but others not. The clinics you see in some movies are often free clinics that are situated in the ‘dodgy’ part of the town where the movie takes place.
2. General Outpatient Clinic. These clinics are general practice facilities and they are run by specialists from different areas of medical practice. These outpatient clinics are commonly found in rural areas where they cater for the local communities. They are a bit different than free clinics and their services and treatments will very likely be more expensive than those of the free clinics. They offer acute, primary, and ongoing care. Not all these types of clinics offer the same services and their payment options and methods are also not the same. The setup is determined by the area, the doctors involved, and what the needs of the community are. Many of these clinics tend to take larger health insurance plans as a payment option.
3. Convenient Care Clinics. Convenient Care Clinics are those you find in a pharmacy or supermarkets. We call them retail-based. These clinics are cheaper to visit for basic treatments like colds and flu. The services and treatments available at these clinics are limited. Nurse practitioners generally work at these clinics. Most of these nurses are not specialists but have general knowledge and training to deal with a large, but limited spectrum of issues. Services like vaccinations, preventative care, and physical exams are offered. You can also have your blood pressure taken and do tests for HIV, insulin, cholesterol, and other such conditions. There are over a thousand of these clinics across the nation. They are very convenient to visit as they are in the center of where you would buy groceries or go for other errands. If you are given a prescription, it is very easy to just walk around the corner and buy your meds from the pharmacy.
4. Specialist Clinics. These clinics are exactly what the name says – specialist. Specialist clinics offer treatments for specific conditions, body parts, or illnesses. These clinics are often quite expensive because of the specialized nature of the care and the staff. The doctors and nurses at these clinics are highly trained and are specialists in their field. They have spent many years studying and practicing medicine to be able to work at these clinics and you will have to pay for this expertise. You will not find general care here like you would at a free clinic or normal outpatient clinic. These clinics deal with diagnosis and treatment of the conditions that they specialize in. Examples of specialist clinics include rehabilitation clinics, fertility clinics, family planning clinics, prosthesis clinics, etc.
As you can see, the types of clinics are quite different. Free clinics and outpatient clinics have similarities, but the others have their own specific nature and services. For basic needs and general conditions, the first two types are best. If you are looking for convenience and fast service, the convenient care option might be best. The specialist clinic speaks for itself.