What is the difference between primary and secondary care?

What is the difference between primary and secondary care?

You probably have heard the terms primary and secondary care and are unsure about the difference between the two. If that’s the case, you’re at the right place. Our primary care physician in Houston has addressed your concern in this blog. These terms are often for the medical services that patients receive. But it is not as simple as that. Read on to learn more about each type and their differences.

Primary Care

Many of us are already aware of the term primary care. In fact, many people have received this type of medical service. A primary care physician is the first point of contact for non-emergency cases in the healthcare system. It offers day-to-day healthcare, typically the principal point of continuing care for patients, and coordinates other specialist care that you might need.

When to see a primary care physician

You will see a primary care physician when you have symptoms or feel ill and want to get checked out. To visit a primary care provider, you do not need any referral. This is the main doctor you see when a health-related problem occurs.

Who gives primary care, and what do they treat?

Primary care is often given by a doctor who can treat and help manage chronic and acute conditions that aren’t a medical emergency. Acute conditions include colds, rashes, flu, body aches and pains, and strains and sprains.

They can also treat and help manage chronic conditions, such as respiratory conditions, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and arthritis. But that’s not it. A primary care provider can treat injuries and illnesses and coordinate their care with specialists who offer specialized care if required.

A continuing-care

If you’re concerned about your health and wellness, a primary care physician can help reduce visits to the ER and hospitalization. Through a personal health care plan, it focuses on maintaining and improving your unique condition and overall health.

Secondary Care

This might be news for some people as secondary care isn’t a common term. Secondary care refers to all the medical services patients receive after their primary care doctors have seen them. In other words, secondary care means being taken care of by a specialist of the patient’s problem. A primary care provider might refer you to a secondary care provider if your health problems need more specialized skills, equipment, or knowledge than the GP has.

When do primary care doctors refer patients to secondary care?

Your primary care physician assesses your initial condition and might recommend some treatment. But to ensure you get the appropriate medical service, they will refer you to a specialist or a secondary care doctor specializing in a medical field related to your problem.
Neurologists, cardiologists, immunologists, dermatologists, and rheumatologists are typical examples of secondary care physicians.

Can I see a specialist directly?

In some cases, you can book an appointment with the specialists directly. But most of the time, medical specialists will need a primary care referral to treat you. Secondary care is not limited to medical specialists. It also includes hospital care regardless of the duration.


Whether you’re not feeling right or it’s your annual visit, please contact Aqeeq Internal Medicine. Our primary care physician in Houston is ready to serve you. Visit us to get care from a high-quality internal medicine doctor.