DALLAS, Sept. 12, 2022– The time it takes to schedule a new patient physician appointment in 15 major metropolitan areas has increased by 8% since 2017 and by 24% from 2004, according to a new survey from AMN Healthcare and its physician search division, Merritt Hawkins.
The 2022 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times and Medicare and Medicaid Acceptance Rates indicates that it now takes an average of 26.0 days to schedule a new patient physician appointment in 15 of the largest cities in the United States, up from 24.1 days in 2017, the last year the survey was conducted, and up from 21 days in 2004, when the survey first was conducted.
“Physician appointment wait times are the longest they have been since we began conducting the survey,” said Tom Florence, president of AMN Healthcare physician search division. “Longer physician appointment wait times are a significant indicator that the nation is experiencing a growing shortage of physicians.”
The survey tracked average new patient physician appointment wait times in five specialties: obstetrics/gynecology, cardiology, orthopedic surgery, dermatology, and family medicine. The average wait time for an OB/GYN appointment in the 15 cities surveyed is 31.4 days, up from 26.4 days in 2017, a 19% increase. Average OB/GYN appointment wait times are longest in Philadelphia at 56 days, and shortest in New York City at 19 days, according to the survey.
The average wait time for a cardiology appointment is 26.6 days, up from 21.1 days in 2017, a 26% increase. Average cardiology appointment wait times are longest in Portland at 49 days and shortest in Dallas at 13 days. The average wait time for an orthopedic surgery appointment is 16.9 days, up from 11.4 days in 2017, a 48% increase. Average orthopedic surgery wait times are longest is San Diego at 55 days and shortest is Washington, D.C. at five days. The average wait time for a dermatology appointment is 34.5 days, up from 32.3 days in 2017, a 7% increase. Average dermatology wait times are longest in Portland at 84 days and shortest in Philadelphia at nine days.
“Major cities like those included in the survey have some of the highest ratios of physicians per capita in the country, yet physician appointment wait times are increasing,” Florence said. “It’s a sobering sign for the rest of the country when even patients in large cities must wait weeks to see a physician.”
Appointment Wait Times Down in Family Medicine
Family medicine is the only specialty in which average appointment wait times were down relative to 2017, according to the survey. The average wait time for a family medicine appointment is 20.6 days, down from 29.3 days in 2017, a 30% decrease. Average family medicine appointment wait times are longest in Portland at 44 days and shortest in Washington, D.C. at eight days.
The decline in family medicine appointment wait times can be attributed to a major shift in how patients access primary care that has taken place over the last several years, according to Florence. A growing number of patients are accessing primary care through urgent care centers, retail clinics, and telemedicine, venues that typically are staffed by nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs).
“The number of urgent care centers and retail clinics is exploding, creating a new front door to the healthcare system,” Florence said. “As a result, accessing a family physician, while still challenging, can be less difficult.”
Physicians Accepting Medicare and Medicaid
The survey indicates that 82.4% of physicians in the 15 major metropolitan markets included in the survey accept Medicare as a form of payment, down from 84.5% in 2017, a 4% decrease. Detroit has the highest number of physicians accepting Medicare at 93% while New York City has the lowest at 58%.
By contrast, only 54.1% of physicians in the 15 metropolitan areas included in the survey accept Medicaid as a form of payment, up from 53% in 2017, a 2% increase. Boston has the highest number of physicians accepting Medicaid at 72% while Dallas has the lowest at 30%. Medicare reimbursement rates are relatively higher than Medicaid reimbursement rates, which generally are the lowest among both public and private payers, according to Florence,
The survey includes data from 1,034 physician offices located in 15 metropolitan areas, including Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minnesota, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, San Diego, Seattle and Washington, D.C. The 2022 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times and Medicare and Medicaid Acceptance Rates can be accessed on the Merritt Hawkins website.
About Merritt Hawkins
Merritt Hawkins is the largest physician search and consulting firm in the United States and is a company of AMN Healthcare (NYSE: AMN). More information about Merritt Hawkins can be accessed at www.merritthawkins.com.
About AMN Healthcare
AMN Healthcare is the leader and innovator in total talent solutions for healthcare organizations across the nation. The Company provides access to the most comprehensive network of quality healthcare professionals through its innovative recruitment strategies and breadth of career opportunities. With insights and expertise, AMN Healthcare helps providers optimize their workforce to successfully reduce complexity, increase efficiency and improve patient outcomes. AMN total talent solutions include managed services programs, clinical and interim healthcare leaders, temporary staffing, executive search solutions, vendor management systems, recruitment process outsourcing, predictive modeling, language interpretation services, revenue cycle solutions, credentialing, and other services. Clients include acute-care hospitals, community health centers and clinics, physician practice groups, retail and urgent care centers, home health facilities, schools and many other healthcare settings. AMN Healthcare is committed to fostering and maintaining a diverse team that reflects the communities we serve. Our commitment to the inclusion of many different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives enables our innovation and leadership in the healthcare services industry. For more information about AMN Healthcare, visit www.amnhealthcare.com.
Senior Principal, Thought Leadership
AMN Healthcare/Merritt Hawkins