Secondary care is the second level of patient care following primary care. A patient who seeks and is unable to receive care from their primary care provider typically gets referred to a secondary care provider, usually a specialist.
Examples of secondary care providers include providers in specialized fields like cardiology, endocrinology, or oncology. If a patient cannot receive the necessary care from a secondary provider, they are often referred to a third specialist to receive tertiary care.
Some health insurance plans require patients to get referrals from their primary care providers for secondary care to be covered.