New Patients waiting times to see their Doctors in 2014
Back in 2014, an article titled: “The Doctor Will See You — In a Few Weeks” by renowned Dr. Sanjay Gupta highlighted a dilemma experienced by an increasingly large number of patients. That article pointed out that the average time new patients have to wait for an appointment is over 18 days across 15 U.S. metropolitan areas according to a survey conducted by Merritt Hawkins, a healthcare consulting firm. The survey focused on five medical specialties: cardiology, dermatology, family practice, obstetrics/gynecology, and orthopedic surgery. Dr. Gupta’s article pointed out some of the reasons behind the amount of time it takes new patients to see a doctor which include: Physician shortage, rising demand for doctors driven by population growth as well as a growing aging population, and also the fact that there are fewer doctors working full-time (perhaps due to their engagement in research, teaching etc. ) resulting in them seeing fewer patients. Another reason cited for more waiting time for new patients to see a doctor was attributed to routine follow-up appointments of patients with chronic diseases who typically require more time and more often to be seen by their doctors.
Here is a nice info-graphic that shows the problem back in 2014:
New patients are waiting longer than ever to get an appointment with a doctor in 2017
Fast forward to 2017, and the situation has worsened significantly! Yes, you read it right. The latest survey conducted by the same healthcare consulting firm quantified the Physician Appointment Wait Times to have gone Up by a whopping 30% from 2014! Now it takes an average of 24 days to schedule a new patient physician appointment in 15 of the largest cities in the nation, up from 18.5 days in 2014.
Here is the equivalent info-graphic based on the 2017 survey results:
More specific survey summary information can be found in this Press Release.
It is interesting to note that the above averages in the 15 major markets surveyed is across five medical specialties: cardiology, dermatology, family practice, obstetrics/gynecology, and orthopedic surgery. According to an article, Boston’s average wait time of 52 days, for example, was the longest for five medical specialties, including:
- 109 days to see a family physician
- 52 days to see a dermatologist
- 45 days to see an obstetrician/gynecologist
- 45 days to see a cardiologist
- 11 days to see an orthopedic surgeon
The fact that Boston has a decent number of Physicians falls short of making healthcare accessible for patients as it takes more than twice as long the average national waiting time to schedule a new patient appointment!
For the first time, the survey this year examined new patient wait times in 15 mid-sized cities of approximately 90,000 to 140,000 people and found the average is 32 days, which is 33% longer than in the major metro markets!
Yakima, Washington has the longest average physician appointment wait times of the 15 mid-sized cities at 49 days while Billings, Montana has the shortest at 11 days.
Here is the survey info-graphic for the mid-sized cities across the U.S.:
One can see the extent of the problem for Patients (especially new Patients) trying to have access to their doctors in a timely manner on a schedule that suits the Patients seeking care. AppointmentNotify is a Platform that is designed to solve this simple but critical problem to make healthcare accessible to all types of Patients (new and those suffering from chronic issues alike). It is imperative that Physician accessibility will need to be enhanced as the health care system continues to evolve.
We shall drill down on to some more interesting facts identified in this useful survey in the near future.
Adios, until then!