Southern physicians keep patients waiting the longest

Report reveals state-by-state physician office wait times

Patients in Southeastern states wait 23.5 minutes on average to see their physician, more than patients in any other U.S. region, according to a report from physician-rating website Vitals.

To assess variation in physician office wait times across the United States, Vitals analyzed wait times reported by patients for 43% of the more than 700,000 physicians included in the Vitals database. They found that this year's national average wait time is 21 minutes, compared with 19.8 minutes last year.

While patients in the Southeast suffered the longest wait times,

  • Southwestern patients waited 21.7 minutes;
  • Northeastern patients waited 21.2 minutes;
  • Western patients waited 19.3 minutes; and
  • Midwestern patients waited 18.9 minutes.

The report also found that Mississippi patients spent more time in the waiting room—25.1 minutes—than patients in any other state. Meanwhile, Wisconsin patients waited only 15.4 minutes, less than patients in any other U.S. state, and patients in Minneapolis waited 16.3 minutes, less than patients in any other major U.S. city.

In addition, the report notes that orthopedic surgeons, anesthesiologists, emergency medicine physicians, addiction medicine specialists, and pain management specialists have the longest wait times, averaging 22 to 24 minutes. Overall, the report shows that specialist wait times are six minutes longer than wait times for primary care physicians.

According to Vitals EVP Jeff Cutler, wait times are an important component of the patient experience. He notes that patients increasingly are able to monitor a physician's average wait time online (Vitals release, 12/7; Lowes, Medscape Medical News, 12/7).

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