Jan 06, 2021
Hospital, clinic, polyclinic & medical center: How are they different?

Though often used interchangeably, a hospital, clinic, polyclinic & medical center are quite different from each other. The difference lies in their functionality, specialty, etc. Here’s an overview of the same:

Simply defined, a hospital is a building or set of facilities designed to diagnose and treat the sick, injured, or ailing. They have a staff comprising of doctors and nurses to aid in the treatment of patients. It offers both short-term and long-term care to its patients. Their specialization lies in inpatient care — which means patients mostly stay at the hospital during the treatment duration.
While the costs depend on the treatment but considering the nature of therapy & stay, hospitals are costliest.
Hospitals in Riyadh:
  • Sulaiman Habib Hospital
  • Specialized Medical Center
  • Kingdom Hospital
  • Aster Sanad Hospital
  • Hammadi hospital
  • Dallah Hospital
  • Magrabi Hospital
  • Mouwasat Hospital 
  • King Abdullah Specialist Children Hospital
Clinic/medical clinic:
Medical clinics are made specifically to provide outpatient services. So the patients usually go home after they receive care. Such clinics are operated publicly, privately, or by the government. They may not entertain emergency cases, and one needs to make an appointment before availing of their health-related services like routine medical care, preventive care, and medical attention when unwell.

Clinics in Riyadh:
  • Nahdicare Clinics
  • Oxyhealth Clinics
A polyclinic is a clinic or health care facility dedicated to offering both general and specialist examinations and treatments. They cater to various diseases and injuries to outpatients and are usually independent of a hospital. Generally, the polyclinic is a bigger version of a clinic. In some cases, they are almost as big as a hospital and may be referred to a general hospital. One can get pathological tests and minor procedures done.

Polyclinics in Riyadh:
  • Diriyah Polyclinic
  • Olaya Polyclinic
  • Shifa Al Jazeera Polyclinic
  • Safa Makkah Polyclinic
  • Abeer Medical
Medical center:
Though used interchangeably for a hospital, a medical center houses a group of doctors. At a medical center, one can get a series of health care services. They may offer general or specialist surgeries & treatments like oncology, dermatology, plastic surgery, radiology, gastroenterology, etc. Medical centers may offer both inpatient and outpatient services — or just one. However, the medical center is a dying term today, and usually, one refers to them as hospitals. It is often used for namesake.

Medical centers in Riyadh:
  • Clemenceau Medical Center Riyadh
  • Riyadh Medical Center 
  • MAGRABI Hospitals & Centers
Hospital Medical center Clinic Polyclinic
Type of stay: Inpatient/outpatient Both, but generally inpatient Can be either inpatient or outpatient Mostly outpatient Outpatient
Size Very big in size, with multi-specialty facilities and teams Almost like a hospital with multi-specialty facilities and teams Smaller units that cater to specialist treatments/diagnosis. Bigger than polyclinic but usually smaller than hospitals.
Timings Open 24x7 a day May be open 24 hours Open for a fixed period Open for a fixed period
Type of care Multiple care options available ranging from diagnosis to treatment Often more focused on routine, preventive, or non-emergency care Usually routine, preventive, or non-emergency care Usually routine, preventive, or non-emergency care
Costs Costliest since it requires inpatient care Lower or at par with hospital costs Lower since outpatient care is provided Lower since outpatient care is provided

These are the major differences between a hospital, clinic, polyclinic & medical center. 
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