Member Asks: What are average urgent care and ED wait times?

CDC: ED wait times have increased since 2009

Topics: Primary Care, Service Lines, Emergency Department, Efficiency, Performance Improvement

December 3, 2012

What are average wait times at urgent care clinics and EDs—and how can we reduce them?

The average wait time varies quite a bit (although it’s much longer at EDs), and below, we offer a breakdown by location.

Urgent care wait times

The Urgent Care Association of America's 2010 Urgent Care Benchmarking Report surveyed nearly 1,700 urgent care centers and found that about 65% of patients wait less than 20 minutes to see a provider. Meanwhile, less than 5% waited as long as 90 minutes.

Overall, the report noted a decrease in wait times as compared to 2008 data and that wait times shift throughout the day—with shorter wait times during the mid-day hours, and longer wait times in the morning and evening hours. 

ED wait times

ED wait times tend to be noticeably long—and getting longer. In 2009, average wait time reached 58 minutes, up from 47 minutes in 2003, according to a CDC report.

In our Clinical Advisory Board study, High Performance ED, we go deeper into data on ED wait times, explore common pitfalls, and offer strategies for minimizing door-to-doc time. In addition, our research shows how wait times can detrimentally affect patient satisfaction.

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