Many Medical Investigations and treatments for acute illness and preventive health care can be performed on an ambulatory basis, including minor surgical and medical procedures, most types of dental services, dermatology services, and many types of diagnostic procedures (e.g. blood tests, X-rays, endoscopy and biopsy procedures of superficial organs). Other types of ambulatory care services include emergency visits, rehabilitation visits, and in some cases telephone consultations.
Ambulatory care services represent the most significant contributor to increasing hospital expenditures and to the performance of the health care system in most countries, including most developing countries.
In the United States, the Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA) estimates that over 15,000 urgent care centers deliver urgent care services. These centers are designed to evaluate and treat conditions that are not severe enough to require treatment in a hospital emergency department but still require treatment beyond normal physician office hours or before a physician appointment is available.
In Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union, Feldsher health stations are the main site for ambulatory care in rural areas.
Hospital emergency departments: Some visits to emergency departments result in hospital admission, so these would be considered emergency medicine visits rather than ambulatory care. Most visits to hospital emergency departments, however, do not require hospital admission.
Non-medical institution-based settings: Including school and prison health; vision, dental and pharmaceutical care.
Ambulatory care sensitive conditions (ACSC) are illnesses or health conditions where appropriate ambulatory care prevents or reduces the need for hospital admission. Appropriate care for an ACSC can include one or more planned revisits to settings of ambulatory care for follow-up, such as when a patient is continuously monitored and/or advised to return when (or if) symptoms appear or reappear.
Hospitalization for an ACSC is considered to be a measure of access to appropriate primary health care, including preventive and disease management services. While not all admissions for these conditions are avoidable, appropriate ambulatory care could help prevent their onset, control an acute episode, or manage a chronic disease or condition.: For Medicaid-covered and uninsured U.S. hospital stays in 2012, six of the top ten diagnoses were ambulatory care sensitive conditions.