Note to reader:  The following is a list of words and definitions commonly used in public health literature, and in this on-line textbook.

            All words marked with an asterisk (*) have been synthesized from a combination of several on-line dictionaries. (The list of dictionaries can be found at the end of the document.)

            All words marked with a superscript number (1) have been cited from a dictionary source-which can be found at the end of the document.  



Abortion4: Giving birth to an embryo or fetus before the fetus is capable of independent life (about the 20th week of gestation or after reaching about 500 grams (1 pound, 2 ounces) in weight). (A premature birth is one which occurs after the infant is generally capable of independent life.)

An abortion may be either “spontaneous” (without outside assistance) or “induced” (the result of efforts to cause the abortion).

Accreditation*: To certify that an individual, organization, educational institution, etc., meets and maintains suitable standards.

Accredited Record Technician (ART)7: A medical technician who has passed a credential examination of the American Medical Record Association.  A medical record technician is a person who carries out certain technical duties with respect to medical records.  The formal training of an ART is somewhat less than that of the medical record administrator.

Action Plan*: A specific procedure of method to achieve results called for by one or more objectives.

Activities director7: The individual responsible for providing activities to patients in a long term care facility in order to promote continuing involvement in activities of daily living and to retard or prevent disabilities.

Admission pattern monitoring7: The monitoring of the distribution of kinds of patients admitted to a hospital (that is, of the admission case mix) in order to detect changing needs for services, displacement of patients to other institutions, or other changes.

Advanced emergency medical procedures7: A term sometimes applied to procedures which an emergency medical technician-paramedic may perform, but which lower levels of EMT’s may not perform.  Such procedures may include, for example, insertion of a tube in the patient’s airway for assistance in breathing, and administration of certain drugs.

Adverse selection4: A situation in which patients with greater than average need for medical and hospital care enroll in a prepaid health plan in greater numbers than they occur in a cross-section of the population.  A plan that somehow encouraged or allowed people to sign up when they were already ill would suffer from adverse selection.

Advisory Group Model:  Coalition model composed of important community groups

that extends a farther reach into the community and which can be useful in providing current information about the community to coalition leaders.

Aerospace medicine7: The branch of preventive medicine that deals with the special problems of flying, both within and outside the atmosphere.  One of the medical specialties for which residency programs have been approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

Affiliative Leadership Style:  Style based upon a caring and nurturing approach. 

Affiliative leaders attempt to develop trust, create harmony, and build emotional bonds through the use of continuous positive feedback.

Aid to families with dependant children6: A federally financed program for single-parent families, designed to provide welfare for single parents who cannot, without this assistance, take proper care of the children.

Aide6: An assistant without professional credentials.  An aide is one who assists, usually without formal training, or with less training than the person assisted.  An aide may also work under the supervision of an agency, as in the case of a home health aide.

Alcoholism4: Chronic dependence on the use of alcohol which leads to interference with health and to social and economic problems.  Withdrawal of alcohol from a person with alcoholism leads to psychological and physical symptoms.

Alcohol rehabilitation4: A service that includes services and enables the alcoholic patient to return to normal functioning.  It is contrasted with alcoholism treatment, which confines itself to the acute episode of intoxication.

Algorithm6: A set of rules for carrying out a process, such as the care of a patient with a given set of problems, or the calculation of a statistic.  The rules are such a specific set of steps is required in sequence, with each step dependent on the preceding step.

Allergy6: An acquired condition of the body so that it reacts abnormally to a chemical substance or physical agent, such as cold.

Allied health professional4: A person who is not a physician, nurse, or pharmacist, and who works in the health field.  An allied health professional may, for example, be a dietitian, an emergency medical technician, or an aide.

Allopathy*: A medical practice which aims to treat disease by the use of methods that produce effects different from those caused by the disease.

Alternative Medicine:  Any form of practice that is outside the realm of conventional

modern medicine.  Covers a broad range of healing philosophies, approaches, and therapies.  Most of these treatments and healthcare practices are not taught widely in medical schools.  Examples include naturopathy, chiropractic, ayurveda, homeopathy, and acupuncture.

Ambulatory4: A term which specifically means “able to walk,” but which in health care refers to a person who is not bedridden.  Thus a person who requires a wheel chair is ambulatory, and can come in for treatment and return home.

Ambulatory care*: Medical services, that may include diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation, that are provided on an outpatient (nonhospitalized) basis.

American Academy of Medical Directors4: The previous name of the American College of Physician Executives (ACPE).  The ACPE is a national medical specialty society whose members are physicians with leadership, management, or administrative responsibilities.

Anatomy7: The structure of organs and tissues, rather than their activities (physiology).

Ancillary services7: Hospital services other than room and board. 

Anesthesia4: The condition of having lost feeling or sensation.  This condition may arise because of the administration of a drug or the use of another agent.

Anesthesiologist*: A qualified doctor who administers an anesthetic (anesthesia) to a patient before the patient receives any type of treatment.

Anesthetic4: The drug or other agent that depresses feeling or the sensation or pain.

Area wage adjustment6: A component of the payment formula under the prospective payment system to allow for differences in wage scales in different parts of the country.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD):  Biologically based disorder that includes a

combination of systems such as inattentiveness or distractibility, impulsivity, and, in some individuals, physical restlessness or hyperactive behavior.  Also known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Authoritative Leadership Style: Style that mobilizes an organization's employees towards a vision and motivates them to be creative in their pursuit of the organizations mission while providing a supportive structure.


Balance billing4: The practice of physicians to charge some patients more than other patients for the same service in order to maintain a desired average fee for that service.

Bariatrics4: The branch of medicine dealing with obesity and related diseases.

Benchmarking*: The process of finding and adapting best practice to improve organizational performance.

Best practice*: A superior method or innovative practice that contributes to the improved performance of an organization, usually recognized as “best” by the other peer organizations.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield3: The nonprofit health care prepayment plans that originated with hospital and physicians, respectively.  In many areas the Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans have merged.  There are 77 of these health insurance plans linked by a national association, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA).

Boundary spanning:  The collecting of information, in a public relations context,

from and interacting with a public health organization's environment to help guide

the central decision making of managers within that public health organization.

Business Process Reengineering (BPR): A fundamental rethinking and radical

redesign of business processes to achieve dramatic improvements in critical

contemporary measures of performance such as cost, quality service, and speed.  Also known as Business Process Improvement.

Bylaws4: A document adopted by a corporation or association that governs its business conduct and the rights and responsibilities of its members.


Capitation*: A tax levied on the basis of a fixed amount per individual.

Caregiver4: An individual who provides care for a disabled or ill friend or relative.

Catchments area*: The geographical area from which a school takes its students, or the area from which a hospital services its patients.

Catheter4: A thin tube to be inserted into the body, via a natural opening or incision into a blood vessel or other structure, for the purpose of putting something into the body or taking something out.

Cause-and-effect Diagram:  A diagram graphically illustrating the relationship between

a given outcome and the factors that influence this outcome.  Also called a "fishbone diagram".

Certificate of need*: A certificate issued by a governmental group to an individual or institution or organization proposing to create or modify a health facility, or to offer a new or different type of service.

Change Management:  Understanding how groups respond to change gives us a more

accurate, less subjective way of interpreting group behavior and of modifying behavior.

Checksheet: A form for recording data on which the number of occurrences of an even

can be recorded as ticks or checks.  In health care, it provides a scientific approach to gathering information to improve the validity of decisions and interventions.

Chiropractic*: A method of treatment that manipulates the spine and other body parts to relieve pain. This treatment method is based on the belief that the cause of pain is the abnormal functioning of a nerve.   

Clinic outpatient admission7: Admission of a patient to a hospital outpatient clinic.  This is a specific kind of outpatient admission.

Coaching Leadership Style:  Style that focuses on personal development of individuals/groups for the future as well as performance improvement.  Requires an individual to possess both the willingness and ability to improve his or her performance and a patient leader committed to the development of the individual.

Coalitions:   A time-limited organization in which there is a convergence of interest in

the part of a number of actors, both individuals and organizations, and an interaction around furthering these common interests.

Coercive Leadership Style:  Style that demands immediate compliance, fails to foster pride or to support the development of initiative on the part of an organization's employees, and is the least flexible.   Its use is often limited to emergency situations such as a recovery from natural disaster.

Co-insurance*:1) A form of insurance by which property is insured for a certain percentage of its value by a commercial insurance policy while the owner agrees to be responsible for the difference; 2) Joint insurance held by two or more persons.

Community Analysis:  The process of assessing and defining needs, opportunities, and resources involved in initiating community health action programs.

Community Organization:  The process of mobilizing and empowering communities through their institutions, organizations, groups, leaders, advocates, and volunteers to commit to organizing and implementing a public health intervention.

Constituent:  One that authorizes another to act as a representative on his/her behalf.

Consumer:   The ultimate user of goods, ideas, or services. For example, in public health marketing, the ultimate user of the ideas of a public health advertising campaign.

Continuous Quality ImprovementSee total quality management.

Control Chart:  A statistical tool that indicates graphically whether a process is in or out of control. They are most useful for ongoing processes in which variation is a source of cost and diminished productivity.  The statistical models allow rapid analysis and intervention for active processes.  In health care, control charts are useful for analyzing performance and outcome measure in diagnostic and therapeutic systems of care for specific disorders or preventive care. 

Cost-Benefit Analysis:   An examination of the relationship between the monetary cost of implementing an improvement and the monetary value of the benefits Achieved by the improvement, both within the same time period.  The result may be expressed as a ratio or in dollars.  The term benefit-cost analysis is also used.

Counter-Messaging:  Marketing campaigns aimed at competing with other advertisements.  Within the public health contexts these campaigns are aimed at competing with the unhealthy lifestyle choices portrayed in the media.

Cytotechnologist*: A technician trained in medical examination and identification of cellular abnormalities.


Democratic Leadership Style:  Style that forges consensus through participation and requires highly developed and competent constituents to respond appropriately to open-ended questions and requests for opinions.

Dentistry*: The branch of medical science concerned with the anatomy and development, the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, and disorders of the teeth and gums.

Detail men*: A representative of a manufacturer of drugs or medical supplies who introduces new products and especially drugs to doctors, pharmacists, and other professional.

Dietary services*: Services provided by dietitians or nutritionists, including consultation with other professional personnel, to meet the nutritional needs of individuals.

Dietician*: A person who scientifically studies, and gives advice about dietetics, i.e. food and eating.

Directive Behavior: One-way communication in which the leader of an organization clearly dictates the role of the follower with a high level of supervision.

Diversity:  The variation in society of culture and other factors.  Includes differences in age, race, gender, physical abilities, sexual orientation, religion, education, region of origin, and language.  May also include factors such as life experience, position in family, and job function.

Drug*: Any synthetic or natural chemical substance used in the treatment, prevention, or diagnosis of disease, or for other medical reasons.

Disability insurance*: Social insurance for the disabled.


Elective Surgery*: Surgery that is subject to choice (election). The patient or doctor may make the choice.

Emergency department*: The department of a hospital, also known as the emergency room or ER, responsible for the provision of medical and surgical care to patients arriving at the hospital in need of immediate care. Emergency department personnel may also respond to certain situations within the hospital such cardiac arrests.

Emergency department admission7: Admission of a patient, who needs prompt attention, to an emergency department, a department or facility which gives care for a single encounter.  By definition, patients may not become continuing patients of an emergency department; the entire episode of emergency care is one visit.  Also called an emergency outpatient admission.

Emergency room*: A part of a hospital that takes care of sick or injured people who need immediate attention: See emergency department.

Emergency service*: Official organizations, for example the police, that deals with crime, fires, and injuries.

Emotional Intelligence: An individual's ability to manage him or herself as well as other

relationships.  It consists of four fundamental capabilities of self-awareness, self management, social awareness, and social skill.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP):  Programs that offer confidential evaluation, treatment and referrals for a range of personal problems, from family/marital issues, mental health, financial and legal problems, and substance abuse.

Employee benefit plans*: Retirement plans established for a company's employees that also have positive tax advantages for the business.

Excellence Movement:  Movement of organizations towards increasing effectiveness, efficiency, scale economies, simplification of structure, and encouragement of autonomy and entrepreneurship.


Feedback: Communication from a consumer or target audience member relaying how delivered products, services, and messages compare with consumer expectations.

Fee for service*: A fee charged for each service performed.

Fee splitting*: A practice, usually among lawyers and physicians, of sending clients to other members of their profession and then dividing the fees.

Fishbone Diagram: See cause-and-effect diagram.

Flowchart:    A graphic structured representation of the major steps in a process. 

Extremely valuable for health care managers in understanding and optimizing processes. See also process map.

Foreign medical graduates*: Physicians who hold degrees from medical schools located in countries other than the country in which they practice.

Formulary*: A book or system of prescribed formulas, especially relating to religious procedure or doctrine, that contain stated and prescribed forms, as of oaths, declarations, prayers, or medical formula.

Fringe benefits*: A valuable service or privilege provided to an employee by an employer in addition to salary, such as medical, dental and life insurance, or a retirement plan.


Gross Domestic Product (GDP)5:  1) The total market value of all final goods and services produced within the borders of a country in one year.  GDP is composed of 3 parts, consumer goods and services, Government purchases of goods and services, and investment goods.  2) Also a measure of output from U.S. factories and related consumption in the United States.  It does not include products made by U.S. companies in foreign markets.  Current measure of the US economy.

Generic drugs*: A prescription drug that has the same active-ingredient formula as a brand-name drug. A generic drug is known only by its formula name and its formula is available to any pharmaceutical company. Generic drugs are rated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be as safe and as effective as brand name drugs and are typically less costly because advertising costs are not included.

Goal*: A broad statement describing a desired future condition or achievement without being specific about how much and when.

Gross national product*: The total market value of all the goods and services produced by a nation during a specified period, usually one year; A former measure of the US economy. See Gross Domestic Product (GDP).


Hawthorne effect*: The concept that every change results in increased productivity.

Health Communication Programs: Programs designed communicate public health messages.  An effective Health Communication Program may have the following six stages:  Planning and strategy selection; Selecting media channels and materials; Developing materials and pre-testing; Implementation; Assessing effectiveness; Feedback to refine program.

Health education*: Education that increases the awareness and favorably influences the attitudes and knowledge relating to the improvement of health on a personal or community basis.

Health department*: A division of a local or larger government responsible for the oversight and care of matters relating to public health.

Healthcare delivery system3: A term without specific definition, referring to all the facilities and services, along with methods for financing them, through which health care is provided.

Healthcare institution7: Any institution dealing with health.  Some definitions state that an institution, to qualify for this term, must have an organized professional staff.  However, there are no regulations, such as standards for the licensure or registry of institutions, which currently restrict the use of this term.

Healthcare organization7: An organization form for health care delivery in which the organization, rather than individuals, assumes the financial risk.

Healthcare plan3: An organized service to provide stipulated medical, hospital, and related services (1) (benefits) to intervals under a prepayment contract.  The plan may be offered by a Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan, an insurance company, a health maintenance organization, a healthcare organization, or other organizations.

Healthcare proxy3: A document that authorizes a designated person to make health care decisions in the event that the signer is incapable of making those decisions.  State law governs whether such a document is valid, how it must be created, and to what extent the proxy is authorized to make health care decisions.

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)5: A corporation financed by insurance premiums whose physicians and staff provide curative and preventive medicine to enrolled volunteer members and their families.

Health Risk Appraisals (HRAs)5: Query into health habits in order to determine diet,

exercise, safety habits, life satisfaction, medical history and self-care habits in order to determine overall health of an individual or group of individuals.  Often the launching point of Wellness Programs.

Histogram:   A chart that displays the distribution of measurement data (such as

temperature).  A histogram reveals the amount of variation within any process.

Home care*: Any medical service provided in the patient's residence.

Home health aides*: A person whose job is to help an old, sick, or disabled person, in that person's place of residency, by cooking, cleaning, washing them, helping them get dressed etc, so that the person can continue to live in their own home rather than go to a hospital or nursing home.

House staff*: The physicians and especially the interns and residents, along with other health professionals, such as physician's assistants and physical therapists, employed by a hospital.

Human Relations Movement: A critique of classical management and bureaucracy that advocated management styles that were more participative and oriented toward employee needs.

Human Relations Theories: An approach that emphasizes developing organizational

forms that build on an individuals/employee's strengths and motivations.

Human Resource Models: An approach that emphasizes the importance of personal motivation and attitudes in explaining employment


Improvement: The positive effect of a process change effort.  Improvement may result from incremental changes or from a major breakthrough.

Indicators*: Established measures used to determine how well an organization is meeting it’s customers’ needs as well as other operational and financial performance expectations.

Informatics6: An emerging term that is used to cover information along with its management, particularly by computer.  Usually the field involved is used along with ”informatics”, e.g., “medical informatics.”

Inpatient admission7: Admission to an institution that provides lodging and continuous nursing services.

Intangible: Incapable of either being 1) perceived by the senses or 2) of being realized or defined.

Intensive care unit (ICU)*: A hospital unit in containing special equipment and specially trained personnel for the care of seriously ill patients requiring immediate and continuous attention.  Also known as critical care unit (CCU).

Intercultural Communications: The styles of communication within a culture.  In the organizational context, it is important to be aware of the interactive style difference in different cultures.

Intercultural Etiquette: Knowing the culture specific habits of various groups.


Juran trilogy*: Three managerial processes identified by Dr. J. M. Juran to be used in managing for quality: quality planning, quality control, and quality improvement.

Just-in-time (JIT)*: An approach whereby an item or service is delivered, just-in-time, where and when it is needed.

Just-in-time training*: The provision of training only when it is needed in order to prevent the loss of knowledge and skill caused by a lag between training and use.


Kaizen*: A Japanese term referring to continual improvement involving everyone at every level in an organization. It is a strategy to improve and maintain all processes through gradual, incremental improvements.


Lead Agency Model Coalition: Model that involves identification of an existing organization that is able and desires to develop, coordinate, and implement the community intervention.

Leader*: An individual who is recognized by others as a person they will follow. 

Leader is often used interchangeably with manager.  However a leader leads people and a manager manages processes.  An individual is referred to as a leader after having earned respect from followers, whereas manager is a title that is conferred on an individual by a higher authority

Leadership: A critical requirement for any quality initiative; the individual or group of individuals, who assumes the role of providing the guidance and resources necessary for an organization to accomplish a mission.

Leadership Style:   The particular style employed by those in leadership positions.

Learning Organizations:  Form of organization that enables the learning of its

members in such a way that it creates positive outcomes, such as efficiency.

Licensure*: 1) The state or condition of having a license granted by official or legal authority to perform medical acts and procedures not permitted by persons without such a license; 2) The approval of a drug or medical procedure by official or legal authority for use in the practice of medicine.

Long-term care*: The continuum of broad-ranged maintenance and health services to the chronically ill, disabled, or retarded. Services may be provided on an inpatient (rehabilitation facility, nursing home, mental hospital), outpatient, or at-home basis.; The range of services typically provided at skilled nursing, intermediate-care, personal care or elder-care facilities.


Malpractice*: Illegal or immoral conduct contrary to established rules resulting in failure to act correctly or legally when doing your job, which results in injury or loss.

Managed Health Care or Managed Care3: 1) Any arrangement for health care in which someone is interposed between the patient and physician and has authority to place restraints on how and from whom the patient may obtain medical and health services, and what services are to be provided in a given situation.  2) A combination of insurance and a health care delivery system.  A systematic approach to providing organized health services that manage the cost and use of services while measuring and monitoring the performance of the plan and its providers with the object of providing cost-effective care to its members.  The main aspect of managed care is the shifting of risks from the payor to the provider. 

Managed Care Plan3: An organization providing managed care, a method of arranging for health care to achieve certain goals: (1) to benefit the individuals served by the plan, and, at the same time, (2) to benefit the population being served, and (3) to provide services (1) in the most efficient, effective, and economic manner in view of the finite resources available.  A managed care plan has a defined group of providers and an identified group of enrollees to be served.

Management2: The art of getting goals accomplished in organizations through others.

Manager2: An individual who, in public health and other organizations, manages the

processes of the organizations.  The title of manager is usually conferred on an individual by a higher authority.

Marketing: The process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods, and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational goals.

Medicaid3: The federal program that provides health care to indigent and medically indigent persons.  While partially federally funded, the Medicaid program is administered by the states, in contrast with Medicare, which is federally funded and administered at the federal level.  The Medicaid program was established in 1965 by amendment to the Social Security Act, under provision entitled “ Title XIX-Medical Assistance.”

Medi-Cal3: Medicaid in California.  Since each state administers Medicaid, the program in California is unique (as are the programs in other states).

Medical assistant4: One of the 26 allied health professionals for whom the American Medical Association’s Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation has accredited education programs.

Medical audit*: A detailed review and evaluation of selected clinical records by qualified professional personnel for evaluating quality of medical care.

Medical care evaluation4: The evaluation of the quality of medical care.  Usually refers to the patient care audit (medical audit), which is retrospective review of the quality of care of a group of patients, ordinarily a group with the same diagnosis or therapy.

Medical Informatics4: A term being applied to a field, being described as a new discipline, which covers medical and related information, both in traditional and electronic form, along with its management, particularly by computer methods.  Included are the storage, retrieval, and use of the information (including, according to some authors, statistics).

Mental health centers*: A home, hospital, or institution for people who are mentally ill.

Mental Illness: A substantial disorder of though or mood which significantly impairs

judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality or cope with the ordinary demands of life and is manifested by substantial pain or disability.

Moral hazard*: A risk to an insurance company resulting from uncertainty about the honesty of the insured.


Naturopaths*: Person who practices naturopathy, a drugless system of therapy based on the use of natural remedies, such as sunlight supplemented with diet and massage, and physical forces such as heat, water, light, air and massage to treat illness.

Nursing home*: A convalescent home or private facility for the care of individuals who do not require hospitalization and who cannot be cared for at home.

Nutritionist*: An expert in nutrition who helps people with special dietary health needs. A registered dietitian (R.D.) has special qualifications in the nutritional field.


Objective*: A specific statement of a desired short-term condition or achievement; This includes measurable end results to be accomplished by specific teams or individuals within time limits.

Occupational medicine*: A branch of medicine concerned with the treatment of patients with occupational and environmental illness and/or injury.

Open Systems Theory: System that is a set of elements that interact with one another so that a change in any one of those elements brings about a corresponding alteration in other elements.  Open systems take in and export energy through interfaces with the environment so that units within the system are also affected by changes in other systems.

Organization: A collection of people working together in a planned deliberate social structure to achieve a common goal.

Organizational Behavior: Application of concepts and theories from the behavioral sciences to human behavior in organizations.  Also known as Organizational Theory.

Organizational Culture: The taken for granted values, underlying assumptions, expectations, and definitions present in an organization whose primary function is to provide meaning, stability, predictability, and comfort to an organization's participants through a process of shared learning that results in a common perspective.  The culture permits an organization to act on opportunities and challenges in a coherent and consistent manner.  In the context of healthcare, organizational culture is critical link between a healthcare organization's articulated strategy and attainment of its goals.

Organizational Learning: Process of improving actions of an organization through better knowledge and understanding, and detecting an correcting errors, thereby increasing an organization ability to take effective action.

Organizational Structure: The structure and/or hierarchy of an organization and how its component parts work together to achieve common goals.

Outpatient*: Patient who does not reside in the hospital where being treated.

Outouts*: Products, materials, services, or information provided to customers from a process.


Pacesetting Leadership Style: Style that is guided by the desire for high performance standards while maintaining a tight agenda.  Is the most effective among a group of a highly motivated and competent individuals who are in need of little direction.

Pareto Chart: A statistical method of measurement to identify the most important problems through various measurement scales, such as frequency or cost.  It directs attention and efforts to the most significant problems and is one of the tools of problem identification that is available to Quality Engineers.

PDSA (Plan-Do-Study-Act): A structured, cyclical methodology for developing and implementing actions of any type.  Plan for the action by collecting and analyzing data and developing alternatives; Do by implementing the selected alternative (preferably on a small scale); Study by evaluating results and comparing expected values; Act by standardizing action and/or starting over. When the term PDCA is used, the C refers to Check.

Peer review*: An examination and evaluation of the performance of a professional or technician by a board or committee made up of people in the same occupation.

Podiatry*: A branch of medicine concerned with the care and treatment of human feet in health and disease.

Poverty*: The condition of being without adequate food and money and is officially considered to be very poor and in need of help.

Premium (health insurance)*: The amount paid or payable, usually in regular installments, for an insurance policy. It is so called because it is paid primo, or before the contract shall take effect.

Prepaid health plan1: A health care plan in which the insurer agrees, for a fixed fee paid periodically in advance, to provide a specific array of services to the beneficiary.

Prepayment plan1: A contractual arrangement for health care in which a pre-negotiated payment is made in advance, covering a certain time period, and the provider agrees, for this payment, to furnish certain services to the beneficiary.

Prescription drugs*: A drug requiring a prescription, a physician's order.

Press Kit: Kit that contains brochures, newsletters and other information used in public relations efforts as well as contact information, press releases, and biographical sketches of key personnel.  Helps an organization to remain prepared and present a consistent image when conducting multiple media events.

Press Release: A brief news articles highlighting an important event, program, or piece of information by an organization that succinctly describes the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the story. 

Prevention: A quality assurance strategy that attempts to identify and correct unacceptable or harmful services, products, or behaviors.

Preventive Action2: Action taken to remove or improve harmful behaviors or processes to prevent potential future occurrence.

Primary care2: The care by a primary care physician.  Care requiring more-specialized knowledge or skill is obtained by referral from the primary care physician to the specialist (secondary physician) for consultation or continued care.

Process*: A set of interrelated work activities characterized by a set of specific inputs and value-added tasks that produce a set of specific outputs.

Process Evaluation: A strategy that looks to improving, rethinking, or restructuring a

process in order to increase performance effectiveness. A key component of many public health programs, it helps generate timely refinements, guide future communication efforts, compare the quality of media coverage, and assess whether target audiences are being reached.

Process Map: A type of flowchart depicting the steps in a process, with identification of responsibility for each step and the key measures.

Process Reengineering:  A breakthrough approach directed toward major rethinking and restructuring of a process; often referred to as a "clean sheet of paper" approach.

Public health1: The organized efforts on the part of society to reduce disease and premature death, and the disability and discomfort produced by disease and other factors, such as injury or environmental hazards.

            Public health is also a branch of preventive medicine, a medical specialty.  Specialization in public health also occurs in engineering, nursing, nutrition, law, and other disciplines.

Public Health Advertising1: Advertising geared towards increasing awareness about public health issues and concerns.

Public Health Communications: The external communications of public relations, marketing, and media relations as it relates specifically to public health and public health organizations

Public Health Marketing:  Marketing that emphasizes public health to consumer or target audiences.  Usually it is concerned with intangible products such as modifying risk behavior, a new public health policy, or changing public policy.

Public Health Media Plan: Plan that helps an organization prepare for media attention while maintaining proactive media outreach, remain flexible in times of crises, and address new issues that arise over time.

Public Health Promotion: Advertising, public relations, special events, fundraising, and lobbying geared towards public health issues.  In the public health context, promotion is best achieved through localized resources such as grass-roots campaigns and community driven initiatives.

Public relations6: The efforts to communicate with the hospital’s audiences and constituencies and to enhance the hospital’s image.

Public Service Announcement (PSA): An announcement for which no charge is made and which promotes programs, activities, or services Federal, State, and Local Governments or the programs, activities or services of non-profit organizations and other announcements regarded as serving community interests.


Quality cost*: The cost incurred by an organization to ensure that customers’ requirements are met.

Quality Engineers: Those who define the quality improvement cycle and implement a quality improvement plan. Seven classic tools are available to quality engineers: Pareto Charts, Fishbone Diagrams, Histograms, Run Charts, Checksheets, Flowcharts, and Control Charts.

Quality improvement2: The process of developing a quality improvement plan linked to an organization's strategy, goals, and objectives in order to improve or increase the effectiveness of a program.

Quality plan*: A document or set of documents that describes the standards, quality practices, resources, and processes pertinent to a specific product, service, or project.

Quality tool*: An instrument or technique that is used to support and/or improve the activities of process quality management and improvement.

Quarantine*: The limitation on the freedom of movement of an individual, for a period of time, to prevent spread of a contagious disease to other members of a population.


Reengineering: A breakthrough approach involving restructuring an entire organization and its processes.  See also process reengineering.

Referral*: The act of recommending a person to someone, such as a medical professional, for a particular purpose.

Reinsurance*: 1) The acceptance by one or more insurers, called reinsurers, of a portion of the risk underwritten by another insurer who has contracted for the entire coverage; 2) The purchase of insurance by an insurance company from another insurance company (reinsurer) to provide it protection against large losses on cases it has already insured.

Relative value scale*: Coded listings of physician or other professional services using units that indicate the relative value of the various services they perform. They take into account time, skill, and overhead cost required for each service, but generally do not consider the relative cost-effectiveness. Appropriate conversion factors can be used to translate the abstract units of the relative value scales into dollar fees for each service based on work expended, practice costs, and training costs.

Risk Behavior: Engaging in behavior that is harmful or dangerous to ones self.

Run Chart: A chart showing a line connecting numerous data points collected from a process running over a period of time. Indicates variations and trends and the amount of change from one time period to another.


School health services*: Preventive health services provided for students, excluding college or university students.

Self-care*: Performance of activities or tasks traditionally performed by professional health care providers. The concept includes care of oneself or one's family and friends.

Skilled nursing care facility*: A type of nursing home recognized by the Medicare and Medicaid systems as meeting long term health care needs for individuals who have the potential to function independently after a limited period of care.

Sliding fee scale*: A variable scale according to which specified wages, prices, etc., fluctuate in response to changes in some other factor, standard, or conditions.

Social Marketing: Marketing that emphasizes that consumer or target audiences should be the focus of the planning, strategizing, and implementation of a marketing program.

Strategic Planning1: The process by which an organizations, public health or otherwise, envisions its future and develops strategies, goals, objectives, and action plans to achieve that future.

Supportive Behavior: Two-way communication in which the leader of an organization encourages interaction by the follower in the decision-making process.

System: A completely functioning process dependent upon many parts to create results where each part has a central purpose that is linked to the global goal of the entire system and achievement of that goal is contingent upon the interaction of the parts.


Tampering*: The act of adjusting a stable process to try to compensate for a result that is undesirable or to obtain a result that is extremely good.

Target Audience: See target market.

Target Market: The particular segment of a total population on which organizations focus their marketing plan in order to satisfy that submarket and meet an organizations profit or non-profit goals.

Teaching hospital*: A hospital that is affiliated with a medical school and provides the means for medical education to students, interns, residents, and sometimes postgraduates; hospital that also functions as a formal center of learning for the training of physicians, nurses, and allied health personnel.

Total Quality Management (TQM): The application of quality principles for the integration of all functions and processes of the organization to achieve the ultimate goal of customer satisfaction through continuous improvement.

Tree diagram*:  A management tool that depicts the hierarchy of tasks and subtasks needed to complete an objective.

Triage*: 1) The principle or practice of prioritizing patients in an emergency situation in which there are a great number of injured or ill; 2) The principle or practice of allocating limited resources, as of food or foreign aid, on a basis of practicality rather than according to moral principles or the needs of the recipients.


Unmet need*: Demands, desires, goals etc. that have not been dealt with or achieved.

Upper control limit*: The control limit for points above the centerline of a control chart.

Utilization Review1: The chapter giving the standards for this component of the hospital in the 1990 Accreditation Manual for Hospitals of the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.


Vaccine4: A preparation which, when introduced into a human or other animal, stimulates the development of active immunity against specific infections.  Most vaccines are either (1) killed bacteria or viruses of strains which, when alive, are able to cause the disease in question, or (2) live bacteria or viruses of attenuated (weakened) strains of the disease-causing organism (closely related bacteria or viruses which are not able to cause the disease but produce passive immunity; passive immunity is the result of introduction into the body of prefabricated immune serum against the disease in question.

Validation*: The act of confirming that a product or service meets the requirements for which it was intended.

Value added*: The parts of a process that add worth from the perspective of the external customer.

Vital statistics*: Statistics concerning the important events in human life such as the number of births, deaths, marriages, migrations, etc within a population.

Voluntary hospital*: A non-profit hospital supported in part by voluntary contributions and under the control of a local, usually self-appointed, board of managers.


Walk-in patient*: A person who desires medical treatment, especially in a hospital, without an initial consultation by a health professional.

Ward patients*: Patients located in the same room or section of a hospital requiring similar kinds of care.

Welfare*: Aid in the form of money or necessities that are distributed those in need by a governmental agency or program.

Wellness Programs: Programs designed to promote healthcare wellness.  Health promotion, disease prevention, and general wellness form the basis of many wellness programs.  The programs commonly use behavior modification principles to promote positive changes in lifestyle and health behaviors.  Steps of a wellness program often include Assessment of expenditures, health status of an individual or group, and available resources; Planning and Implementation of the program; and Monitoring and Evaluation of the results of the program.

World Health Organization4: The division of the United Nations that is concerned with health.




Zero Balanced Reimbursement Account (ZEBRA)4: A type of health care benefit plan provided by employers who are self-insured and pay for the care as it is given. The ceiling under such a plan is typically “unlimited”.  The Internal Revenue Service has ruled that funds spent for a beneficiary under such a plan are taxable to the beneficiary, and that the employer is liable for withholding income tax on benefits, except for those benefits that are nontaxable under federal statutes.

Zero defects*: A long-range goal or concept that implies the need for never-ending improvement.

*Online Dictionaries used to Synthesize terms:


Main Web-site: http://www.foreignword.com/Tools/dictsrch.htm


Source Language: English

Target Language:  Mono-lingual

Dictionary titles:        

            FindLaw: http://www.findlaw.com (Stanford University, CA)

            Lawyers.com: http://www.m-w.com (New Providence, NJ)

            Law.com: http://law.com legal dictionary (San Francisco, CA)

            MedTerms: http://www.medterms.com/Script/Main/hp.asp (California)

            Merriam W. (med): http://www.m-w.com/ (Springfield, Massachusetts)

            MebMD Health: http://my.webmd.com/health_guide_atoz (Main location, Unknown)

OneLook: http://www.onelook.com (Englewood, CO)

Web Dictionary: http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/ASC/INDEXASC.html (Brussels, Belgium)

Wordnet: WordNet 1.7.1  http://www.cogsci.princeton.edu/~wn (Princeton, NJ)

WordReference: http://www.wordreference.com (Atlanta, GA)

WordSmyth: http://www.wordsmyth.net (Main location, Unknown)


Dictionary Reference Citations Used in Above Dictionary Terms With the Use of Superscripts:


1 Vergil Slee et al; Slee’s Healthcare Terms; Third Edition, Tringa Press; St. Paul,

            Minnesota, 1996.


2 U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, A

            Discursive Dictionary of Healthcare, Feb 1976; Washington DC; U.S. government

            Printing Office.


3 Thomas Timmrek, Dictionary of Health Service Management, Second Edition; Rynd

            Corp. Owings Mills, Maryland, 1987.


4 American Association of Medical Records Librarians, Glossary of Hospital Terms,

            Chicago, Illinois, 1969.


5  Stanley Jablonski, Dictionary of Medical Acronyms and Abbreviations, 4th Edition;

            Hanley and Belfus, Inc. Philadelphia, PA, 2001.


6  Merriams-Webster’s Medical Dictionary; Merriam-Webster, Inc. Springfield, Mass.



7  Webster’s New World Medical Dictionary, Mitz Waltz, IDG Books World Wide, Inc,

            Foster City, CA; 2000.