Difference Between OPD and IPD Treatment

  • postauthorOnsurity Editorial
  • postdateJune 19, 2024
  • postreadtime10 min read
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OPD and IPD in Healthcare

The Outpatient Department is often referred to as OPD, while the Inpatient Department is called IPD. Both these departments are two vital components of the growing healthcare industry in India. The evolving consumer expectations and the rise of healthcare innovations have led to a gradual transformation of both OPD and IPD care in the country.

In fact, OPD expenses today account for a significant portion, approximately 62%, of total healthcare costs in India, indicating the substantial size and importance of the OPD segment in the country

The IPD industry in India too has been growing rapidly. According to Statista Market Insights, the IPD market will exhibit an annual growth rate of 8.15% (CAGR 2024-29). In fact, the IPD market is dynamic and evolving, driven by factors such as increasing healthcare demand, advancements in medical technology, and government initiatives to strengthen the healthcare system.

OPD Full Form in Medical – What Is OPD?

OPD stands for Outpatient Department, which is a division within a hospital or healthcare facility that treats patients who don’t require hospitalisation.

The key facts to know about OPD include:

  • OPD provides non-emergency medical care to patients who can be treated and discharged on the same day without needing to stay overnight in the hospital.
  • Services offered in an OPD include consultations, diagnostic testing, minor operations, rehabilitation services, and primary care.
  • OPDs have evolved as a distinct department within hospitals since the early 20th century, driven by advancements in medical technology and surgical methods.
  • Patients typically make appointments in advance to obtain care at the OPD.
  • OPDs are more convenient, cost-effective, and provide better continuity of care compared to emergency room visits or inpatient stays.
  • Outpatient departments have a multi-disciplinary team of healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, and support staff, to provide a wide range of services and expertise to patients.

In short, OPD is a crucial component of modern healthcare, offering accessible, efficient, and cost-effective medical services to patients who do not require hospitalisation.

Also, Read: Health Insurance with OPD Cover

IPD Full Form in Medical – What Is IPD?

IPD, also called Inpatient Department, is a crucial department in any hospital that provides comprehensive medical care and treatment to patients who require hospitalisation.

Here are the key points about IPD in hospitals:

  • IPD provides round-the-clock inpatient services to admitted patients.
  • Patients are provided with bedding, meals and lab facilities along with treatment and medication.
  • The Inpatient Department caters to severe medical conditions that require close monitoring and a range of healthcare services.
  • IPD treatments involve a minimum hospital stay of over 24 hours.
  • Hospitals have dedicated IPD wards for male, female, and labour patients.
  • The Inpatient Department is equipped with various medical facilities and equipment to provide the necessary care to patients.
  • IPD is staffed by a team of medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers.
  • The medical team provides continuous care and attention to patients to ensure their speedy recovery.

Related Read: Domiciliary Hospitalisation Meaning

OPD vs IPD: Key Differences

Aspect   OPD (Outpatient Department)  IPD (Inpatient Department) 
Nature of treatment  Patients receive medical consultations, diagnosis, and treatment without being admitted to the hospital. Treatment is done on a day-care basis, and patients can leave after a few hours.  Patients are admitted to the hospital for medical treatment or surgery to manage complex medical conditions. Patients stay for a period under the care of medical professionals. 
Duration of stay  Treatment is completed within a day, and patients do not require hospitalisation beyond a few hours.  Patients stay in the hospital for the duration of their treatment, which can range from a few days to weeks. 
Services covered  Covers routine check-ups, lab tests, minor procedures, doctor consultations, and preventive care services.  Covers in-patient, pre- and post-hospitalisation expenses, major surgeries, organ transplants, complex medical conditions, and recovery after surgeries. 
Costs  Costs are generally lower, as it involves less intensive treatment focused on diagnosis, advice, and prescription of medications.  Costs are higher, as it offers a higher level of medical intervention, specialised treatment, and post-operative care for serious medical conditions. 
Patient admission  Patients do not require admission to the hospital for more than 24 hours.  Patients are admitted to the hospital for more than 24 hours for intensive care and treatment.

What Does OPD and IPD Insurance Cover?

OPD and IPD insurance coverages are two distinct aspects of healthcare that serve different purposes. Here’s a summary of what each type of insurance typically covers:

1. OPD Insurance Coverage

opd vs ipd - opd insurance coverage

OPD insurance coverage typically includes expenses incurred for medical consultations, diagnostic tests, minor procedures, and treatments that do not require hospital admission.

This type of coverage is designed to help policyholders manage routine healthcare expenses, such as:

  • Doctor consultations and follow-up appointments.
  • Diagnostic tests and investigations.
  • Minor surgical procedures.
  • Medications and prescriptions.
  • Preventive care services.

OPD insurance coverage varies depending on the health insurance plan selected, and some comprehensive plans may offer OPD coverage as an add-on or as part of the basic policy.

Quick Read: Pre-existing Disease in Health Insurance

2. IPD Insurance Coverage

opd vs ipd - ipd insurance coverage

IPD insurance coverage, on the other hand, involves a range of healthcare services that require the patient to be admitted to the hospital, usually for a period exceeding 24 hours.

This type of coverage is designed to help policyholders manage more complex and serious medical conditions, such as:

  • Hospitalisation for surgeries, medical conditions, or injuries.
  • Room charges and hospital stay expenses.
  • Medical procedures and treatments.
  • Post-hospitalisation care and rehabilitation.

Most health insurance policies cover IPD treatments, and some policies may also offer additional benefits like pre-hospitalisation and post-hospitalisation expenses, ambulance charges, and organ donor expenses.

Suggested Read: Types of Health Insurance

Benefits of OPD Treatment

OPD treatment offers several benefits to patients, healthcare providers, and the healthcare system as a whole:

1. Convenience

OPD treatment is convenient, as patients can receive medical care without the need for overnight hospitalisation, allowing them to continue with their daily activities and routines.

2. Cost-Effectiveness

OPD treatment is generally more cost-effective compared to inpatient care, as it eliminates the various expenses associated with hospitalisation.

3. Reduced Waiting Time

In many cases, patients can schedule appointments for OPD treatment in advance, reducing the need to wait for long periods to see a healthcare provider. This helps improve patient satisfaction and allows for more efficient use of time for both patients and healthcare professionals.

4. Early Detection and Prevention

Regular visits to the OPD for check-ups and preventive screenings enable early detection of diseases and medical conditions. Early diagnosis and intervention can lead to better treatment outcomes and reduce the risk of complications or progression of diseases.

5. Follow-Up Care

OPD treatment facilitates regular follow-up visits for patients undergoing treatment or recovering from illnesses or procedures. These follow-up appointments are essential for monitoring progress, adjusting treatment plans, and addressing any concerns or complications.

6. Reduced Risk of Hospital-Acquired Infections

Since patients receiving OPD treatment do not stay overnight in a hospital setting, they are at lower risk of exposure to hospital-acquired infections, which can be a significant concern for inpatients.

Also, Read: Group Health Insurance Benefits

Benefits of IPD Treatment

IPD treatment, which involves overnight hospitalisation or longer-term care, offers several benefits to the patients, healthcare providers, and the healthcare system:

1. Comprehensive Care

IPD treatment allows for comprehensive care and monitoring of patients with acute or severe medical conditions. Patients have access to round-the-clock medical supervision, nursing care, and support services, ensuring that their healthcare needs are met continuously.

2. Emergency Care

IPD facilities are equipped to handle medical emergencies and provide immediate treatment to patients with critical conditions. This timely intervention can be life-saving and significantly improve patient outcomes, especially in cases of trauma, heart attacks, strokes, or severe infections.

3. Rehabilitation Services

For patients recovering from surgeries, injuries, or prolonged illnesses, IPD treatment offers access to rehabilitation services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. These services aid in recovery, restore function, and improve patients’ quality of life.

4. Psychosocial Support

Hospitalisation can be emotionally challenging for patients and their families. IPD facilities often provide psychosocial support services, including counselling, mental health consultations, and support groups, to help patients cope with stress, anxiety, and emotional distress associated with their medical condition.

5. Observation and Monitoring

Inpatients receive continuous observation and monitoring of vital signs, symptoms, and response to treatment by healthcare professionals. This close monitoring allows for early detection of complications, timely interventions, and adjustments to treatment plans as needed.

Also, Read: Day Care Treatment in Health Insurance

Claim Process for OPD and IPD

The claim process for OPD and IPD treatments involves specific steps to ensure reimbursement or cashless settlement for medical expenses.

Here is a summary of the claim process for both OPD and IPD based on the provided sources:

1. OPD Claim Process

  • Initial payment: Patients need to pay for the OPD treatment upfront, including consultation fees, diagnostic tests, and medications
  • Claim documentation: Collect all relevant bills, medical reports, and other documents related to the OPD treatment.
  • Claim submission: Submit these documents along with the duly filled claim form to the insurance company for reimbursement.
  • Claim verification: The insurance company verifies the documents and treatment to ensure compliance with the policy terms.
  • Reimbursement: After approval, the claim amount is reimbursed to the patient’s bank account based on the policy coverage and terms.

Related Read: Health Insurance Claim Process

2. IPD Claim Process

The IPD claim process involves two different processes, depending on whether it is cashless or reimbursement. Let’s look at each separately:

2.1 Cashless claim

  • Intimation: Inform the insurance company about the hospitalisation for IPD treatment.
  • Pre-authorisation: The hospital sends a pre-authorisation form to the insurer for approval of the treatment and expenses.
  • Treatment and discharge: Patients receive treatment and are discharged without paying out of pocket as the insurer directly settles the bill with the hospital.

2.2 Reimbursement claim

  • Claim submission: The documents are submitted along with the claim form to the insurance company post-discharge for reimbursement.
  • Verification and approval: The insurer verifies the claim, and if it complies with the policy terms, the claim is approved for reimbursement.
  • Reimbursement: The approved claim amount is reimbursed to the patient’s bank account to cover the medical expenses incurred during the IPD treatment.

Understanding and following these claim processes for OPD and IPD treatments can ensure a smoother and hassle-free experience when availing of health insurance benefits for outpatient and inpatient medical care.

Also, Read: Cashless Health Insurance

When to Choose OPD and IPD?

Choosing between OPD and IPD treatments depends on the nature and severity of the medical condition. Here are some guidelines to help you decide when to choose OPD and IPD:

Choose OPD for:

  • Routine check-ups and consultations.
  • Minor surgical procedures that do not require hospital admission.
  • Diagnostic tests and investigations.
  • Pharmacy expenses and medication costs.
  • Preventive care services like health check-ups, vaccinations, and screenings.
  • Chronic conditions that require regular monitoring and treatment.
  • Fitness enthusiasts who may require treatment for workout-related injuries.
  • Senior citizens may need frequent medical consultations and minor treatments.

Choose IPD for:

  • Severe medical conditions that require hospitalisation for more than 24 hours.
  • Complex surgeries and major medical procedures.
  • Childbirth and maternity care.
  • Serious illnesses that require close monitoring and intensive care.
  • Rehabilitation services and post-operative care.
  • Conditions that require hospital admission for treatment and recovery.

In short, OPD is suitable for routine medical care, minor treatments, and chronic condition management, while IPD is necessary for severe medical conditions, complex surgeries, and hospitalisation. Understanding the differences between OPD and IPD can help you make informed decisions about your healthcare needs and choose the right health insurance policy that covers both OPD and IPD treatments effectively.

Also, Read: Difference Between Life Insurance and Health Insurance

Role of HIMS in OPD and IPD Management

HIMS (Health Information Management System) plays a crucial role in managing both OPD (Outpatient Department) and IPD (Inpatient Department) services efficiently within healthcare facilities.

Here’s how HIMS contributes to OPD and IPD management:

1. Role of HIMS in OPD Management

1.1 Appointment scheduling

HIMS facilitates the seamless scheduling of OPD appointments, ensuring efficient patient flow and reducing waiting times.

1.2 Patient records management

HIMS maintains comprehensive electronic health records (EHRs) for OPD patients, including medical history, test results, prescriptions, and treatment plans.

1.3 Billing and claims processing

HIMS streamlines billing processes for OPD services, including insurance claims, invoicing, and payment tracking.

1.4 Medication management

HIMS helps in managing medication records, prescriptions, and drug interactions for OPD patients, ensuring accurate and safe medication administration.

1.5 Reporting and analytics

HIMS generates reports on OPD utilisation, patient demographics, treatment outcomes, and resource allocation, aiding in performance evaluation and decision-making.

Recommended Read: Onsurity Membership for Family Health Care

2. Role of HIMS in IPD Management 

2.1 Admission and discharge management

HIMS facilitates the smooth admission and discharge processes for IPD patients, ensuring accurate documentation and coordination between departments.

2.2 Clinical documentation

HIMS maintains detailed electronic medical records (EMRs) for IPD patients, including treatment plans, progress notes, surgical procedures, and post-operative care instructions.

2.3 Bed management

HIMS helps in managing bed availability, occupancy, and allocation in IPD wards, optimising resource utilisation and patient flow.

2.4 Treatment protocols

HIMS supports the implementation of standardized treatment protocols, clinical guidelines, and best practices for IPD care, ensuring quality and consistency in patient management.

2.5 Interdepartmental communication

HIMS facilitates communication and information sharing between healthcare providers, specialists, and support staff involved in the care of IPD patients, promoting collaboration and coordinated care delivery.

Also, Read: Private and Public Hospitalisation Cost


In conclusion, OPD and IPD departments play vital roles in the healthcare system of India, catering to different patient needs and medical conditions. OPD offers outpatient services for minor ailments and routine care, while IPD provides inpatient services for severe conditions requiring hospitalisation and intensive medical interventions.

Understanding the difference between OPD and IPD is crucial for patients, healthcare providers, and insurers to ensure appropriate care and coverage for diverse healthcare requirements.


1. What is the difference between OPD and IPD?
OPD and IPD departments in healthcare facilities serve different purposes, with OPD focusing on outpatient care for minor ailments and routine check-ups, while IPD provides inpatient care for serious medical conditions, surgeries, and complex treatments that require hospitalisation.
2. Why is IPD important in a hospital?
Inpatient Department (IPD) is important in a hospital as it provides intensive medical care, complex treatments, comprehensive services, continuous monitoring, patient safety, and efficient resource utilisation for patients with serious medical conditions requiring hospitalisation.
3. What kind of medical services are provided in the OPD?
Some of the key services offered in the OPD include doctor consultations, diagnostic tests, minor surgeries, preventive care, follow-up care and pharmacies.
4. Can a patient visit the OPD without an appointment?
Yes, a patient can visit the OPD without an appointment.
5. How long do patients typically stay in the IPD?
The length of stay in the IPD can vary based on the specific medical needs of the patient, ranging from a few days to weeks.
6. Are there visiting hours for patients in the IPD?
Yes, there are specific visiting hours for patients admitted in the Inpatient Department of hospitals. The visiting hours vary across different hospitals.
7. How are follow-up appointments scheduled for patients from the OPD?
Follow-up appointments for patients from the OPD are typically scheduled by contacting the doctor’s office directly.
8. How are medical emergencies handled in both the IPD and OPD?
In both the IPD and OPD, medical emergencies are handled differently due to the nature of care provided in each setting.

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