Tagging healthcare:speciality=* inside a hospital

Isn’t the term “clinic” for ambulatory care? The wiki says explicitly that it “doesn’t admit inpatients”. Then it is not suitable for the situation of several departments / organizational units / specialties of a hospital in general (but just for some cases).

To be clear, the wiki says “does not admit inpatients”. How the admin is handled is an entirely different issue, often not observeable on the ground. I don’t see how “it is not suitable” follows from this - are you suggesting that most people who visit some part of a hospital for some reason are inpatients? In my part of the world at least, that is simply not the case.

No, what I meant to say was that a common situation is a “hospital” which consists of different departments, also specialized (e.g. brain cancer and similar neuro-problems, i.e. people who have had or will have chirugical interventions on the brain), and they will have inpatients. One of the most basic distinctions is between surgery and medical clinic (the former about people being “cut” and the latter about curing them without opening, said in simple language). Both types of departments will often have inpatients. Then there are lots of specialized hospitals (e.g. skin, eyes, teeth, “children”, women, orthopedy, etc.) which all may be operating independently or as part of a bigger structure.

that loses info that it is a major high-level part (somehow conveyed by amenity=clinic use)

note that it is additionally encouraged by their names suggesting amenity=clinic (for example in Polish this is happening)

The problem is, amenity=clinic was separated from amenity=hospital by giving it an intrinsic feature of not taking inpatients. And now if you want to tag a major high-level part of a hospital that does take inpatients, you have no tag.

Standard UK usage for hospital visits is out-patient, in-patient and day case. It is easy to tell the latter two from the first because you are given an identifying wrist bracelet with a hospital number on it (a few years ago I had a diagnostic test where the machine used was located in the day hospital and I had to be formally admitted as a patient, even though it was only for 30 minutes).

I think that ambulatory care may not only cover out-patients, but also other healthcare services provided by, for instance, GP practices, or in the US HMOs. The key thing for typical out-patient attendance is that the care is usually under a named consultant (from a given specialty). An out-patient visit might be part of a single “episode of care” (e.g., maternity services are a complex mixture of clinic visits, hospital stay etc) or a standalone episode.

Some hospital clinics may offer non-consultant led services for long-term conditions: for instance, ear cleaning (wax removal etc.) was provided at my local hospital.

I no longer have any idea if there is a good open data framework for healthcare in Europe which might help, although there were certainly initiatives 30 years ago and the NHS model is a very rich one which is always worth consulting.

1 Like

Here is the proposal draft: Proposed features/healthcare=department - OpenStreetMap Wiki

Comment if something doesn’t make sense.

I would mention current tagging solutions (amenity=clinic is popular) and why this proposed here is preferable


Hey, I would suggest addressing this with a revision in general, if necessary. After my previously failed Healthcare 1.1, I had planned to make another attempt, where I wanted to take up the justified criticism between amenity= and healthcare= and choose the tags differently accordingly. Also to include a department-like. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time until here. Perhaps this can be solved together? I would be pleased :slight_smile:

1 Like


I added the Existing tagging paragraph with some history.

1 Like

I’m not quite sure what’s your suggestion. To merge this proposal with the Healthcare 1.1 proposal?

Is it possible that healthcare=department + amenity=clinic would be correct tagging?

Wait, is healthcare=department intended to be taggable for parts of amenity=doctors? Because name gives hint that it could be.

That sounds wrong to me, but maybe someone could make sense of it. It definitely isn’t intuitive what that would mean.

It can be, but I never thought of amenity=doctors as something so big it can have departments. It would be a clinic at that point, no?

To merge this with a revised healthcare 1.1 proposal

I found a tag health_facility:type=department

This was a part of the Healthcare 2.0 proposal which was abandoned. Do we ignore this? In the wiki I added that this proposal would deprecate this tag.

I guess it’s time for Request For Comments on the Tagging list?

This sounds like it could be mapped with some sort of healthcare=campus or landuse=healthcare tag. It probably doesn’t make sense to address larger-than-hospital mapping in the same proposal as this smaller-than-hospital tag, but maybe someone sees a way to squeeze it in.

Hi everyone!

We had a short discussion about how to tag departments of hospitals and clinics a year ago:

Several people (me included) spoke in favor of a tagging scheme that could also be used for other parts, such as faculties, departments and institutes of a university, parts of a botanical garden, or named parts of a lake. Thorsten had the idea to generalize the building:part pattern. Because some objects can be divided into more than one way, i suggest the following tagging scheme:

<value of main tag>:<division>=<part type>

If there’s only one <part type> or if there’s already another tag that describes it (like healthcare:speciality), <part type> could simply be yes.


  • hospital:department=yes + healthcare:speciality=nephrology
  • clinic:department=yes + healthcare:speciality=neurology
  • university:faculty=natural_sciences
  • university:department=physics
  • university:institute=astronomy
  • garden:part=alpinarium
  • lake:part=yes + name=Upper Lake

There is already https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Key:faculty for University faculties, & also https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Key:department, which says can be used for either Universities or Department Stores.

Could probably also be used for hospitals?

It is better to use new keys, than to change the meaning of already used and documented keys.

(now, if those keys were to follow Proposal process instead of ATYL, that issue might’ve been spotted and they could’ve indeed be made more generic and thus more useful, as you correctly note. Alas, it is too late for that now (i.e. without investing much more effort to contact current editors and data users, and convincing them to support wider use, such ad-hoc changing of tag meaning would likely break things and make people unhappy, so is best avoided).

While there is no problem with mentioning this use case in healthcase 1.1 proposal too; I feel that small proposal which fulfill simple and more easily defensible niche for which no alternatives exists (like this one for healthcare=department), has a much better chance of being approved than lump-sum proposals like healthcare 1.1 (which would likely step on many people toes, because, if nothing else, it deprecates things: which means it forces people to put in extra work or their already working stuff will break, and people tend not to like that).

1 Like