National Institute of Health Policy (NIHP) divides healthcare providers into six groups (2):
- Physicians, also often referred to as doctors include general practitioners as well as specialists, such as oncologists, cardiologists, urologists, neurologists, chiropractors, psychologists, dentists, paediatricians, etc.
- Nurses, incl registered nurses (RNs) and nurse practitioners (NP) who provide the bulk of the care patients receive.
- Pharmacists prepare and dispense medications prescribed by a physician or NP, they also monitor patients’ drug responses and provides pharmacological information to multidisciplinary health care teams
- Administrative staff who handle appointments, payments, patient files, health insurance companies, specialists in a hospital or physician’s office.
- Technologists and technicians who analyze patient samples, e.g. blood or other bodily fluids
- Therapists a term for professionals who are trained—and often licensed—to provide a variety of treatments and rehabilitation for people.
However, who or what is considered a healthcare provider varies considerably. For example, while included in the list of healthcare providers by the NIHP, administrative staff or therapists are not always included in the definition, e.g. they are not part of the legal definition in Title 29 Section 825.125 of the Code of Federal Regulations (29 CFR 825.125) (3). Broader definitions include allied health professionals in a addition to technologists and technicians such as physician’s assistants, diagnostic medical sonographers, dietitians, midwives, occupational therapists, physical therapists, radiographers, respiratory therapists, and speech language pathologists
Other definitions of the term healthcare provider go beyond limiting the term to individuals - or healthcare professionals - and include institutions such as hospitals, clinics, primary care centres, and other health service delivery points.
(1) Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing