“Finding a General Surgeon: Self-Referral in the Digital Era”

Academic Article


  • Background: As technology becomes more prominent in today’s society, more patients turn to the Internet to self-refer for a range of surgical problems. Frequently, patients search a nearby hospital’s website in order to find a physician. We hypothesized that the variability in hospital websites would make it difficult for patients to find a general surgeon for their care. Methods: We used the US News and World Report’s Hospital Rankings 2018-2019 for this study. The “Find A Doctor” page within each hospital’s website was searched for the following conditions: “hernia” and “gallbladder.” Information on all suggested providers was collected, including medical specialty and gender. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data. Results: The median number of providers listed in each search was 18 (range: 1-204). For “hernia,” general surgeons were not the majority of providers suggested at 12/16 institutions. For “gallbladder,” general surgeons were not the majority of providers suggested at 14/16 institutions, and 3/16 institutions did not suggest any. All 16 institutions suggested a strong majority of male providers (range: 62-100% male; median: 83% male). Discussion: Considerable variation exists in the suggestion of medical providers for common general surgical problems among the top academic hospitals. Most notably, general surgeons are not listed as the primary providers for these conditions which they commonly manage. Health systems need to examine how their website suggest providers and ensure that patients can easily find the physician most suitable for their care.
  • Published In

  • American Surgeon  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Gentry ZL; Ananthasekar S; Chen H; Fazendin JM
  • Start Page

  • 177
  • End Page

  • 180
  • Volume

  • 88
  • Issue

  • 2