Annual Analysis of Average Patient Wait Times Finds We’re Waiting Longer

APRIL 12, 2013 | The average shortest time patients sit in a waiting room before seeing a physician increased by more than a minute from 2011 to 2012, according to a new report issued by Vitals.

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The annual report, based on patient-reported wait times from Vitals’ database of more than 870,000 physicians, found that in 2012, Alaska had the shortest average wait time at 16 minutes, 28 seconds, followed by Wisconsin with an average wait time of 16 minutes, 29 seconds. In 2011, Wisconsin had the shortest average physician wait time at 15 minutes, 26 seconds.

Rounding out the top five states — those with the shortest average physician wait times — were Minnesota, New Hampshire and North Dakota. For the second year in a row, Mississippi had the longest average wait time at 24 minutes, 25 seconds. Other states in the bottom five were Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Nevada.

“As the supply of qualified doctors remains unchanged, the new health care law requires 30 million more Americans to have insurance,” said Vitals CEO Mitch Rothschild in a release about the report. “The flood of new demand is causing a major disruption to the system. For the unchanging supply of doctors, it will mean less time to spend with patients in examination rooms.”

Wait times also influence whether patients choose certain physicians, Rothschild added.


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