January 20, 2018

Terms and Definitions

Ambulatory Care: All health services that are provided on an out-patient basis, that don’t require overnight care. Also called out-patient care.

Board Certified: Status granted to a medical specialist who completes required training and passes and examination in his/her specialized area. Individuals who have met all requirements, but have not completed the exam are referred to as “board eligible.”

Care Guidelines: A set of medical treatments for a particular condition or group of patients that has been reviewed and endorsed by a national organization, such as the Agency for Healthcare Policy Research.

Chronic Care: Treatment given to people whose health problems are long-term and continuing. Nursing homes, mental hospitals and rehabilitation facilities are chronic care facilities.

Chronic Disease: A medical problem that will not improve, that lasts a lifetime, or recurs.

Disease Management: Programs for people who have chronic illnesses, such as asthma or diabetes, that try to encourage them to have a healthy lifestyle, to take medications as prescribed, and that  coordinate care.

Distance Learning: A system and a process that connects learners with distributed learning resources characterized by (1) separation of place or time between instructor and learner, among learners, or between learners and learning resource and (2) interaction between the learner and the instructor, among learners, or between learners and learning resources conducted through one or more media. Use of electronic media is not required.

Elective: A healthcare procedure that is not an emergency and that the patient and doctor plan in advance.

Essential public health services: The services identified in Public Health in America (defined below): monitoring health status; diagnosing and investigating health problems; informing, educating, and empowering people; mobilizing community partnerships; developing policies and plans; enforcing laws and regulations; linking people to needed services; assuring a competent workforce; conducting evaluations; and conducting research.

General Practice: Physicians without specialty training who provide a wide range of primary healthcare services to patients.

Health Informatics: The systematic application of information and computer science and technology to public health practice, research, and learning.

Health Improvement Plan (HIP): A plan made up of action steps to guide providers of essential public health services in addressing problems and gaps that have been identified in a needs assessment. The HIP should mobilize a variety of organizations to reduce health problems and improve the community’s capacity to respond to public health needs. All providers of public health services—such as health departments, hospitals, schools, managed care providers under Medicaid, environmental health agencies, and medical and nursing organizations—should be included in a HIP. Health departments should play an especially active role in developing and implementing plans.

Long-term Care: Healthcare, personal care and social services provided to people who have a chronic illness or disability and do not have full functional capacity. This care can take place in an institution or at home, on a long-term basis.

Medical Outcomes: Measures of the effectiveness of particular kinds of treatment. This refers to what is quantified to determine if a specific treatment or type of service works.

Preventive Care: Healthcare services that prevent disease or its consequences. It includes primary prevention to keep people from getting sick (such as immunizations), secondary prevention to detect early disease (such as Pap smears) and tertiary prevention to keep ill people or those at high risk of disease from getting sicker (such as helping someone with lung disease to quit smoking).

Primary Care: Basic or general routine office medical care, usually from an internist, obstetrician-gynecologist, family practitioner, or pediatrician.

Public Health Infrastructure: The resources needed to deliver the essential public health services to every community—people who work in the field of public health, information and communication systems used to collect and disseminate accurate data, and public health organizations at the State and local levels in the front lines of public health.

Public Health Workers: Individuals who are responsible for providing the essential public health services whether or not they work in an official health agency.

Quality of Care: How well health services result in desired health outcomes.

Source(s): Healthy People 2010 and Council of State Governments

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