Types of healthcare facilities in the USA

If you’re travelling to the USA, it’s important to know the different types of healthcare facilities available. When it comes to healthcare in America, patients have plenty of choice, so it’s worth researching the differences between the types of facilities on offer. To help you get to grips with the options, we’ve put together a list of the different healthcare facilities in the USA:


The primary task of a hospital is to provide patients with any short-term care they need. Usually reserved for those with serious health issues sustained from injuries or disease, a hospital should only really be used if absolutely necessary. Open around the clock, seven days a week, hospitals in the USA bring together physicians of various specialties as well as highly trained nursing staff. Most hospitals in America can provide a wide range of services, from scheduled surgeries to emergency care. Larger hospitals may also offer diagnostic testing and lab work.

Ambulatory Surgical Centre

Sometimes a surgical procedure will be too complex to be performed in a doctor’s office, but will be simple enough that it doesn’t require hospital care afterwards. For these procedures there are ambulatory surgical centres, although sometimes they are referred to as same day surgery centres. The primary aim of an ambulatory surgical centre is to provide patients with a safe environment for the surgery and to offer any basic monitoring once the surgery has been completed. Quite often, even if you have the same surgery as you would in a hospital, the cost of having the surgery in an ambulatory surgical centre will be significantly cheaper. So, if you’re unfortunate enough to require surgery whilst travelling in America but don’t need hospital care, be sure to seek out an ambulatory surgical centre.

Doctor’s Office

If it’s routine care you need, then a doctor’s office is the perfect choice. Usually focused on one type of medicine, you will find that the doctors operating from the office are mostly general practitioners, although some offices will provide specialist care. If you’re suffering from an acute condition that doesn’t require immediate medical intervention then a doctor’s office should be able to meet your needs. Many doctor’s offices also have physician assistants as well as nurses as part of the staff, all of whom are on hand to deliver high levels of patient care. Remember, if you’re suffering from any communicable diseases such as cholera or diphtheria, the requirements for an ESTA state that you must declare which disease you’re suffering from whilst making your application.

Urgent Care Clinic

If you’re unable to get to a doctor’s office, or you require some basic medical care but don’t have an appointment, then it’s usually a good idea to head to an urgent care clinic. Often called walk-in clinics, they are able to provide you with outpatient care. It’s important that you don’t get urgent care clinics confused with the emergency room in a hospital, however. An emergency care clinic should be used if your issue is something that you would see your doctor with, examples include having a stomach virus or spraining your ankle. If your health situation is more complex or serious, such as experiencing breathing difficulties or chest pains, then you should head to the hospital’s emergency room.