20 Jun How long do your patients wait? How long would you wait?
How long do your patients wait? How long would you wait?
The American healthcare system is strained in so many ways: high costs and high demand, a shortage of primary care doctors, a shifting health insurance market, and a burgeoning pool of newly insured patients seeking care.
Americans wait 18.5 days to see a new doctor
A new survey by Merrit Hawkins of over 1,000 medical practices in 15 metropolitan areas looked at how long patients had to wait to get an appointment for a common, non-urgent complaint with a new doctor.
Which cities have the longest wait time for appointments with a new doctor?
Looking across five specialties in the 15 cities surveyed, the cities with the longest average wait times were:
- Boston: 45.4 days
- Denver: 23.6 days
- Philadelphia: 20.6 days
- Portland:19.4 days
- Minneapolis: 19.2 days
Which specialties have the longest wait times?
In the five specialties surveyed, the average wait time* for a new patient to get an appointment was:
- Dermatology: 28.8 days
- Family Practice: 19.5 days
- Obstetrics/Gynecology: 17.3 days
- Cardiology: 16.8 days
- Orthopedic Surgery: 19.2 days
*This is an average of the wait times across the 15 metropolitan areas.
Which cities are the best for quick appointments?
Dallas has the lowest cumulative average for most appointments, with an average of 10.2 days. Otherwise, the answer to which city is best for a quick appointment depends a lot on what kind of doctor you are looking to see. In Minneapolis, you’ll probably have to wait more than six weeks to see a dermatologist but you can be seen by an ob/gyn pretty quickly.
- For a dermatologist, it’s best to live in Los Angeles, Atlanta, or San Diego each at 14 days. Compare this to the 72 day wait in Boston.
- For family practice, you can get an appointment in a week in Dallas or San Diego. Avoid New York (26 days).
- If you’re looking to grow a family, Los Angeles and Dallas are the quickest for OB appointments at 8 & 10 days respectively.
How can your practice minimize wait times and improve the patient experience?
Certainly health professionals will be able to do more when they have more resources, support, tools, and frankly, when there are more of them. By some estimates there will be a shortage of nearly 45,000 doctors by 2020. The shortage of physicians contributes, in part, to long wait times to see a new doctor. Those who employ midlevel providers will likely be more flexible than those who do not. It is counter-intuitive for many, but investing more in midlevel education and resources can have a larger impact than investing in the physicians. In particular, look for tools that optimize midlevel efficiency and allow them to spend time with patients instead of over paperwork or on the phone. When it comes to long wait times for new patient appointments, the shortage of doctors isn’t the only contributing factor. The survey found that patient wait times in any particular city are related to patient income, demographics, and lifestyles as well as the types of health insurance prevalent in an area. Long patient wait times in a medical mecca like Boston, where the physician to population is quite high, also points to the need to do more with less and create more efficient clinic systems. The problem won’t be solved by a single solution. Creating multiple avenues for access is critical. This requires new tools and innovative approaches to help doctors to work smarter and better—not harder—and ultimately to see patients more quickly. Have you been able to successfully get new patients into your practice faster? We’d love to hear to what works. I’d love to hear your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org. DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT HERE
About Keona Health
At Keona Health, we help solve patient access—we create healthcare software and automation solutions to allow anytime, anywhere access on any device. At the same time, we ease the burden of telephone triage on medical practices and help medical professionals better communicate with patients. Keona Health’s automation solution was recognized at the Allscripts Open App Challenge for best supporting clinical, financial and performance improvement results. TO SEE A DEMO OF KEONA HEALTH SOFTWARE, CLICK HERE.