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.
|Top 10 Cities with the Shortest Average Wait Times|
|Seattle, WA||16 minutes, 15 seconds|
|Milwaukee, WI||16 minutes, 17 seconds|
|Denver, CO||16 minutes, 25 seconds|
|Minneapolis, MN||16 minutes, 42 seconds|
|Portland, OR||17 minutes, 05 seconds|
|Omaha, NE||17 minutes, 23 seconds|
|Charlotte, NC||17 minutes, 26 seconds|
|Austin, TX||17 minutes, 32 seconds|
|San Diego, CA||17 minutes, 43 seconds|
|Raleigh, NC||17 minutes, 48 seconds|
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 in 2014.
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 and Louisiana.
|Top 5 States with the Shortest Average Wait Times|
|Wisconsin||15 minutes, 32 seconds|
|New Hampshire||15 minutes, 40 seconds|
|Maine||16 minutes, 7 seconds|
|Vermont||16 minutes, 25 seconds|
|Washington||16 minutes, 39 seconds|
|Bottom 5 States with the Longest Average Wait Times|
|Louisiana||23 minutes, 04 seconds|
|West Virginia||23 minutes, 10 seconds|
|Tennessee||23 minutes, 11 seconds|
|Alabama||24 minutes, 18 seconds|
|Mississippi||24 minutes, 45 seconds|