Everyone is busy these days, so a long wait at the doctor's office can
be frustrating. In fact, 10 percent of people said it would be enough
reason to find a new doctor.
Yet, accessing care in America's largest cities is getting tougher.
According to the Vitals Index annual report analyzing U.S. trends in
patient care, the shortest wait time in the top 50 cities increased by a
full minute, compared to last year.
In 2013, Denver had the shortest wait at 15 minutes, 15 seconds. This
year, Seattle earned the top spot with 16 minutes, 15 seconds. For the
third year in a row, the longest wait time was reported in El Paso at 29
minutes, 20 seconds, an increase of 41 seconds, compared to last year.
Among the top U.S. cities Vitals also found significant increases in
2014. In 2014 Detroit had a 3 minute, 32 second gain over last year's
wait time and Memphis added 2 minutes, 20 seconds. A couple of cities
did better, though. Fresno patients had 1 minute, 47 seconds shaved off
their wait this year compared to last. Charlotte residents waited 1
minute, 12 seconds less for their appointments in 2014.
The bright spot in the report is that nationwide, the time spent in
doctor waiting rooms dropped this year - but only by one second. The
national average wait time to see a physician is 20 minutes, 16 seconds
Alternative care centers, like urgent care facilities and retail
clinics, have taken some of the pressure off traditional doctors.
"While Americans have more options for their routine care, there are
also 30 million more Americans entering the health care system under the
Affordable Care Act," said Mitch Rothschild, CEO, Vitals. "We are going
to continue to feel a strain on the system, especially in our most
populated cities and urban areas. As people seek quality doctors, wait
time will impact a patient's perception, and ultimately their
relationship with their physician."
For states, Wisconsin led the nation with the shortest wait time at 15
minutes, 32 seconds. The remaining top five states with shortest
physician wait times include New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and
Washington. Mississippi leads for a third year as the state with the
longest wait, averaging 24 minutes, 45 seconds for wait time- an
increase of 20 seconds over last year. Rounding out the bottom five with
the longest physician wait times are Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia
For its fifth annual Physician Wait Time Report, Vitals analyzed
patient-reported wait times from its database of over 870,000
physicians. The Vitals Index is designed to provide transparency at all
levels of health care to enable consumers to make smarter decisions.
Vitals believes that technology makes better health possible. We are a
leader in providing online tools and actionable data that enable
healthcare consumers to make more informed decisions about the cost and
quality of their medical care. Through health plans, hospitals and our
leading consumer websites, Vitals helps more than 150 million people
each year access information for better, more affordable care. The
Vitals Index is an ongoing report about the state of doctor-patient
relationships based on proprietary data and surveys.
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