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TMCNet:  Shortest Average Wait Time for Doctors in Major Cities Increased One Minute Year Over Year

[March 26, 2014]

Shortest Average Wait Time for Doctors in Major Cities Increased One Minute Year Over Year

NEW YORK --(Business Wire)--

Everyone is busy these days, so a long wait at the doctor's office can be frustrating. In fact, 10 percent of people said it would be enough reason to find a new doctor.

Yet, accessing care in America's largest cities is getting tougher. According to the Vitals Index annual report analyzing U.S. trends in patient care, the shortest wait time in the top 50 cities increased by a full minute, compared to last year.

In 2013, Denver had the shortest wait at 15 minutes, 15 seconds. This year, Seattle earned the top spot with 16 minutes, 15 seconds. For the third year in a row, the longest wait time was reported in El Paso at 29 minutes, 20 seconds, an increase of 41 seconds, compared to last year.




Top 10 Cities with the Shortest Average Wait Times
Seattle, WA     16 minutes, 15 seconds
Milwaukee, WI     16 minutes, 17 seconds
Denver, CO     16 minutes, 25 seconds
Minneapolis, MN     16 minutes, 42 seconds
Portland, OR     17 minutes, 05 seconds
Omaha, NE     17 minutes, 23 seconds
Charlotte, NC     17 minutes, 26 seconds
Austin, TX     17 minutes, 32 seconds
San Diego, CA (News - Alert)     17 minutes, 43 seconds
Raleigh, NC     17 minutes, 48 seconds

Among the top U.S. cities Vitals also found significant increases in 2014. In 2014 Detroit had a 3 minute, 32 second gain over last year's wait time and Memphis added 2 minutes, 20 seconds. A couple of cities did better, though. Fresno patients had 1 minute, 47 seconds shaved off their wait this year compared to last. Charlotte residents waited 1 minute, 12 seconds less for their appointments in 2014.

The bright spot in the report is that nationwide, the time spent in doctor waiting rooms dropped this year - but only by one second. The national average wait time to see a physician is 20 minutes, 16 seconds in 2014.

Alternative care centers, like urgent care facilities and retail clinics, have taken some of the pressure off traditional doctors.

"While Americans have more options for their routine care, there are also 30 million more Americans entering the health care system under the Affordable Care Act," said Mitch Rothschild, CEO, Vitals. "We are going to continue to feel a strain on the system, especially in our most populated cities and urban areas. As people seek quality doctors, wait time will impact a patient's perception, and ultimately their relationship with their physician."

For states, Wisconsin led the nation with the shortest wait time at 15 minutes, 32 seconds. The remaining top five states with shortest physician wait times include New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and Washington. Mississippi leads for a third year as the state with the longest wait, averaging 24 minutes, 45 seconds for wait time- an increase of 20 seconds over last year. Rounding out the bottom five with the longest physician wait times are Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia and Louisiana.

Top 5 States with the Shortest Average Wait Times
Wisconsin       15 minutes, 32 seconds
New Hampshire       15 minutes, 40 seconds
Maine       16 minutes, 7 seconds
Vermont       16 minutes, 25 seconds
Washington       16 minutes, 39 seconds
Bottom 5 States with the Longest Average Wait Times
Louisiana       23 minutes, 04 seconds
West Virginia       23 minutes, 10 seconds
Tennessee       23 minutes, 11 seconds
Alabama       24 minutes, 18 seconds
Mississippi       24 minutes, 45 seconds

For its fifth annual Physician Wait Time Report, Vitals analyzed patient-reported wait times from its database of over 870,000 physicians. The Vitals Index is designed to provide transparency at all levels of health care to enable consumers to make smarter decisions.

About Vitals

Vitals believes that technology makes better health possible. We are a leader in providing online tools and actionable data that enable healthcare consumers to make more informed decisions about the cost and quality of their medical care. Through health plans, hospitals and our leading consumer websites, Vitals helps more than 150 million people each year access information for better, more affordable care. The Vitals Index is an ongoing report about the state of doctor-patient relationships based on proprietary data and surveys.

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