Health care, or healthcare, refers to the treatment and management of illness, and the preservation of health through services offered by the medical, dental, pharmaceutical, clinical laboratory sciences (in vitro diagnostics), nursing, and allied health professions. Health care embraces all the goods and services designed to promote health, including “preventive, curative and palliative interventions, whether directed to individuals or to populations.
Before the term health care became popular, English-speakers referred to medicine or to the health sector and spoke of the treatment and prevention of illness and disease.
A health care provider is an organization that provides facilities and health care personnel to deliver proper health care in a systematic way to any individual in need of health care services. A health care provider could be a government, the health care industry, a health care equipment company, an institution such as a hospital or medical laboratory. Health care professionals may include physicians, dentists, support staff, nurses, therapists, psychologists, pharmacists, chiropractors, and optometrists.
Practicing health care without a license is generally a serious crime that could be punished by up to several years in prison.
The delivery of modern health care depends on an expanding group of trained professionals coming together as an interdisciplinary team.
The Healthcare industry incorporates several sectors that are dedicated to providing services and products dedicated to improving the health of individuals. According to market classifications of industry such as the Global Industry Classification Standard and the Industry Classification Benchmark the healthcare industry includes health care equipment & services and pharmaceuticals, biotechnology & life sciences. The particular sectors associated with these groups are: biotechnology, diagnostic substances, drug delivery, drug manufacturers, hospitals, medical equipment and instruments, diagnostic laboratories, nursing homes, providers of health care plans and home health care.
According to government classifications of Industry, which are mostly based off the United Nations system, the International Standard Industrial Classification, health care generally consists of Hospital activities, Medical and dental practice activities, and other human health activities. The last class consists of all activities for human health not performed by hospitals or by medical doctors or dentists. This involves activities of, or under the supervision of, nurses, midwives, physiotherapists, scientific or diagnostic laboratiories, pathology clinics, ambulance, nursing home, or other para-medical practitioners in the field of optometry, hydrotherapy, medical massage, occupational therapy, speech therapy, chiropody, homeopathy, chiropractice, acupuncture, etc.