(NewsUSA) - Both parents and students worry about medical problems while students are away at college. Here are the three things students must know to avoid a medical crisis when symptoms or injuries occur away from home:
- How can they get an immediate diagnosis for symptoms?
- How can they identify the right kind of care to treat the problem?
- How can they locate the appropriate facility nearby?
Times have changed from the era of the students' parents. Students and parents can now get answers from the Internet when faced with the three questions. This includes students at the University of Central Florida, which recommends the Web site freeMD.com during orientations for its 50,000 students and their parents. Using the site, students can find out what's wrong before they even see a doctor.
Dr. Michael Deichen, medical director for the University of Central Florida, says students take to the Internet with ease. He says that the freeMD.com site has proved over several years to be a new way to solve the problems for students away from home.
When students go to the free Web site, they are greeted by a virtual doctor. The virtual doctor asks them questions about their condition and symptoms, just like a real doctor. Then, the virtual doctor provides the likely diagnosis about what's wrong. The doctor also tells the visitor where they should go to get the right kind of care, whether it's an emergency room, an urgent care center or a doctor's office. The site will tell students how to treat the problem themselves if possible. FreeMD gives directions to a nearby facility that will provide the kind of care that is needed, and it even provides a printout of the results to give to the doctor who will treat them.
Surveys show that use of the Web to seek medical information doubled from 16 percent in 2001 to 32 percent in 2007, according to the Center for Coordinating Health System Change.
The university has found that students most often seek advice about ear, nose and throat symptoms, gynecologic symptoms and orthopedic problems. Parents' concerns include whether their young adults will overlook a serious problem or not get timely care. When students know what to do, it makes the university health care system more efficient and lowers costs to all concerned.