What Are the Different Levels of Health Care? Here’s What You Should Know

David A. Farcy / November 17, 2022 /

When you get sick or injured and need to receive care, you can undergo several levels of medical care. Though the one you are likely most familiar with is primary care, there are others you could receive at different stages in your life, like secondary, tertiary and quaternary care. As a patient, you may have heard of the terms before, but knowing what they mean can help you understand the type of care you can receive.

In this guide, we’ll break down the different levels of medical care, the providers involved and examples of situations that could require each level of care.

4 Levels of Health Care

Whether you’ve gone to the doctor for a cold, surgery or a more specialized treatment, chances are you’ve experienced at least one of these levels of medical care before. Here is a breakdown of each level of care you can receive through a health system.

1. Primary Care

Primary care is probably the most well-known for many people. It’s the first type of care you seek for most of your medical and health concerns. You may use primary care for:

  • Colds
  • Viruses
  • Broken bones
  • Sore muscles
  • Rashes
  • Sprains and strains

You likely already have a primary care provider (PCP) — a medical professional you see for regular checkups, wellness visits and screenings. Your primary care provider could be a:

  • Physician assistant
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Doctor

Primary care ensures you receive essential medical assistance to help you maintain your health.

2. Secondary Care

If your health concerns exceed your PCP’s capabilities, they may refer you to a secondary care provider. These types of providers are specialists in different health fields. With their expertise, you can receive a more comprehensive assessment of your particular issue.

Specialists often focus on specific conditions, diseases or body systems. You may visit a specialist if you have a serious condition requiring specialized medical assessment and care. Some specialists include:

  • Oncologists: Oncologists specialize in treating cancer. Many may also focus on a specific cancer type.
  • Cardiologists: Cardiologists focus on conditions of the blood vessels and the heart. If you have heart disease or notice blood vessel issues, you may get a referral to a cardiologist.
  • Endocrinologists: Endocrinologists concentrate on treating health issues regarding hormone systems. They may treat diseases like diabetes, thyroid disease, adrenal disorders and more.
  • Dermatologists: Dermatologists care for issues involving skin, nails and hair. Whether you have acne, melanoma, hair loss or eczema, they can help you find solutions.

Depending on your need, you may need a referral from your PCP before seeing a specialist for insurance purposes.

3. Tertiary Care

While primary and secondary care are the more widely known types of care, there is also tertiary care. If you need a tertiary level of care, you might be in the hospital and require a higher level of specialized treatment. Tertiary care involves medical treatment that uses specialized equipment and expertise.

Some tertiary care examples include procedures like:

  • Dialysis
  • Severe burn treatment
  • Reconstructive surgery
  • Plastic surgery
  • Coronary artery bypass surgery
  • Complex treatments

Patients receiving tertiary care may be in a life-threatening situation, whether they have an illness that obstructs their health or their vitals are unstable. If you need tertiary care, you may receive treatment while in:

  • Emergency rooms
  • Intensive care units (ICU)
  • Trauma or critical care units

Some hospitals may not have all the necessary tools to give you care, so you could require transference to another facility with the right equipment.

4. Quaternary Care

The last type of medical care you can receive is quaternary care. While it is often considered an extension of tertiary care, quaternary care covers even more unique and specialized medical issues. With how specific quaternary care is, you may need to visit a dedicated medical center to receive care.

Some quaternary care examples include:

  • Rare, specialized surgeries
  • Experimental procedures and medicine

Patients requiring quaternary care may use it as a last resort or because they have limited options.

How REVA Helps You Receive Care

If you’re traveling and need to receive immediate care, REVA is ready to help. Whether you need to travel for primary, secondary, tertiary or quaternary care, REVA can ensure you get to your medical professionals. We are a team of experienced medical and aviation specialists dedicated to ensuring travelers can get where they need to go, despite having an illness or injury.

When you need assistance, we are here to provide it. Our team will fly to you wherever you are in the world and ensure you get the medical care you require during the journey. Our air ambulance team has completed over 30,000 flights in 70 countries. Our team will handle the entire process when you use our services, from coordinating all the necessary insurance documents and clearances to safely transporting you or a loved one to the destination.

We offer air transport for medical emergencies, whether you have a cardiac condition or contagious disease. Our medical team consists of the best doctors, nurses and critical care professionals. They continue to undergo intensive training and education to keep up with the latest technology and industry news. Similarly, our aviation team also comprises the best pilots. Many of them are veterans with experience and backgrounds in commercial, medical and military aviation. They also spend countless hours every month training and keeping up with the latest educational materials.

Fly With REVA to Receive Immediate Care

REVA is a call away whenever you need immediate medical care while traveling domestically or abroad. Our goal is to provide the most accessible and affordable medical emergency care for travelers, so you don’t have to worry about getting home when injured or sick. We provide compassionate and efficient care for every patient who boards our air ambulance.

The next time you need to travel to get medical care, rely on REVA for support. Learn about your options by requesting a quote for our air ambulance services. We look forward to helping you!