Francisco Osorio / CC-BY-2.0

Instead of checking in with a primary care provider, busy young people, many of whom lack adequate health insurance, often consult WebMD or Google before heading to a retail clinic or urgent care center.

“This mode of addressing a health concern is used by more than half of millennials,” writes Sarah D. Young at Consumer Affairs, citing a recent survey by FAIR Health. “Its primary allure: convenience.”

The internet savvy, digital natives often take matters into their own hands when it comes to tracking down health-related information, explains William Curry, M.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine Associate Dean or Rural and Primary Care. But this plan can backfire.

Consulting the internet or heading to an urgent care clinic when faced with an illness may be less demanding in the short-term — but in the long run, this line of defense isn’t nearly as effective as seeing a primary care provider. …

“I see them sometimes assuming all that information is equally reliable when it is not,” Curry said in a statement. He notes that millennials sometimes believe they can find simpler alternatives online, including dietary regimens or natural remedies — which may or may not be helpful.

In any case, while online remedies and urgent care clinics may be convenient, Curry says they shouldn’t take the place of medical screening and prevention.

“It’s important to realize they cannot take the place of a primary care provider for the screening, prevention and long-term follow-up that we all need, customized to each of us,” he says.

Younger people, who are especially prone to believing everything is fine (until it’s not), are less likely than other generations to believe primary care is important. To this end, Curry highlights the advantages of building a personal relationship with a primary care provider.

Read more.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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