The Sectors of Healthcare Industry

The healthcare industry is primarily dedicated to the study, treatment and prevention of illness, disease and injury, and is one of the largest industries in the county. It provides roughly 14 million jobs to Americans and with the growing population, the aging of the baby boomers and the nursing shortage, the need for more healthcare workers and providers is steadily on the rise. For clarification purposes, the industry is generally divided into two sectors: healthcare equipment and services; and pharmaceutical, biotechnology and other related life sciences. These sectors are dissected in further detail below.

The first sector of the healthcare industry, healthcare equipment and services, is comprised of companies that provide medical equipment, medical supplies, and health care, such as hospitals, home health care providers, private medical practices and nursing homes. Healthcare providing establishments number roughly 600,000 in the United States. Surprisingly, hospitals comprise only 1% of that number, but employ 35% of all healthcare providers. Medical equipment and supply companies are growing rapidly to meet the needs of the ever-expanding healthcare industry and can provide such things as orthopedic apparatus, surgical instruments, diagnostic apparatus and x-ray machines.

The second industry sector is comprised of companies that produce biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and miscellaneous scientific services. The pharmaceutical industry is the development and sale of medication and is without a doubt the most profitable business in the United States. In 2006, it was estimated that $643 billion dollars was spent globally on prescription drugs. And the United States can account for more than half of that global pharmaceutical market. Biotechnology, on the other hand, draws on the pure biological sciences of microbiology, genetics, embryology and more and involves the use of living things in engineering, technology and medicine. Biotech can include the production of medicine and the practice of gene therapy and genetic testing.

If you are interested in a career in the healthcare industry, your choices are limitless. For example, having an interest in medicine could lead you to: become a physician to diagnose illness and prescribe medicinal treatment; become a pharmacologist and study the effects and composition of medicine; or work for a pharmaceutical company and develop medications. With so many various types of companies and sectors to get involved in, it is essential to do research before beginning a job or a field of study in the healthcare industry.

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