Doctor on health review sites: "No one reliable site"

(CBS News) With 66 percent of Americans saying they use the web look for health information, it's important to note a new study in the Journal of Urology which claims that popular physician review websites used by many are not reliable.

Physician review websites enable patients to submit ratings and reviews of their physicians. However, Dr. Bryan Vartabedian of Texas Children's Hospital in Houston said Monday on "CBS This Morning," the varying amount and specificity of these reviews make them reviews unreliable.

"One in five Internet users are referencing" the physician review sites," Vartabedian said, but warned that "there's no one real reliable equation or reliable site," despite their popularity.

He suggests "a multi-tiered approach" in finding a healthcare provider, starting with tapping into "your personal network...trusted family and friends" and seeking help from a primary care doctor when in need of a specialist. Vartabedian added that looking into institutional affiliations is a reliable tactic for finding a specialist.

Vartabedian explained that over the next few years, increased access to hospital data may provide Internet users with clearer guidelines.

"Hospitals will be releasing data about infection rate, outcome," he said, and added that this may equip patients with more accurate information to use in their search for care. Patients will be able to "look and compare hospitals with regard to these outcomes rather than going on a physician review site that complains about the waiting room," Vartabedian said.

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