Hospitals Vs. Regional Medical Centers: Key Differences To Keep In Mind For Your Healthcare

Posted on: 24 March 2017


Hospitals are generally the place you want to go for most surgeries and medical emergencies. However, a new type of medical provisional center is emerging in many parts of the country. It is the regional medical center. Here are some key differences between a hospital and a regional medical center, in the event that you are faced with a choice in where you go for your healthcare needs.


Hospitals are massive structures that encompass almost all major areas of healthcare and emergency services. Some specialists may not be present in the building due to space restrictions, but the majority of your healthcare needs, from birth to elderly health issues, are covered. In regards to emergencies, you know that hospitals have access to all of the equipment, medication and supplies to patch you up and make you well. Some hospitals even have emergency services provided by helicopters such that you can be airlifted to the hospital or airlifted to a hospital that has a trauma center or specialty doctor that the first hospital does not.

Regional Medical Centers

Regional medical centers are like mini-hospitals. They provide some of the major healthcare services, but they do not provide all of the services that hospitals do. Regional medical centers can be extensions of a local hospital, or they may be centers for hospital overflow. Regional medical centers can also provide ongoing specialty services for oncology (cancer diagnosis and treatment), nephrology (kidney diseases and diabetes), and/or pediatric diseases and treatments. 

Regional medical centers that act as "satellite" locations can focus their healthcare on certain patients. They can also clear out space in the hospital itself to provide more room for offices or patient rooms and new wings of the hospital. The concentrated effort on certain branches of medical practice ensures that patients in medical centers are getting access to all of the possible treatments available for their particular diagnosis.

A Word on Health Insurance Coverage

Finally, another aspect to consider when you choose a regional center versus a hospital is health insurance coverage. While hospitals are typically covered under your health insurance, regional medical centers are only covered if they are satellite centers of your hospital and are within the same healthcare provider. You may also be covered for services from a regional center if your doctor refers you to a specialist at a regional center and there are no other specialists in the area that you can see.