SOURCE: Vitals


December 07, 2011 07:30 ET

Data Reveals Physician Office Wait Times Vary Between States, Regions and Major U.S. Cities

Wait Time Trends Show Gap Between Primary Care and Specialty Medicine

LYNDHURST, NJ--(Marketwire - Dec 7, 2011) - Many factors determine how a patient feels about a visit with their doctor, including how long they spend in the waiting room. Vitals, a website dedicated to helping patients find and connect with doctors that meet their needs, analyzed patient-reported wait times from its database of over 700,000 physicians to learn more about nationwide wait time trends.

"While the actual encounter with a physician is a key factor in how a patient feels about their office visit, with today's busy lifestyles, wait times definitely matter in overall patient satisfaction," said Jeff Cutler, executive vice president of Vitals. "It's important for patients to be aware of how long they can expect to wait to receive the care they need, and increasingly, they can find this information on the Internet."

Vitals' findings revealed that nationwide patients wait on average 21 minutes to see a physician, yet wait times vary from state to state, across regions and among major U.S. cities. Wisconsin emerged as the state with the shortest wait time, with a 15 minute average. Rounding out the top five states with the shortest wait times were New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and Minnesota. Mississippi's average wait time of 25 minutes placed it at the bottom of the list. Trailing not far behind with average wait times between 23 and 24 minutes were Alabama, West Virginia, Arkansas and Nevada.

Top 5 States with the Shortest Average Wait Times
Wisconsin 15.43 minutes
New Hampshire 15.66 minutes
Maine 16.02 minutes
Vermont 16.54 minutes
Minnesota 16.67 minutes
Bottom 5 States with the Longest Average Wait Times
Mississippi 25.06 minutes
Alabama 25.53 minutes
West Virginia 24.15 minutes
Arkansas 23.50 minutes
Nevada 23.47 minutes

Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Hawaii -- America's top five healthiest states, according to health determinants such as behavior, environment, health policy, access and clinical care, as determined in the 2011 report from America's Health Rankings -- were all among states with wait times below the national average. Of states with wait times above the national average, many ranked as the nation's unhealthiest states, including the five states with the longest wait times -- Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Nevada and Oklahoma.

Analysis of major U.S. cities revealed patients in Minneapolis, Seattle, Milwaukee, Omaha and Portland can all expect the shortest wait times at 17 minutes or less. With an average wait time of 29 minutes, El Paso came in eight minutes over the national average, the longest of any city analyzed. Other U.S. cities posting high average wait times included Memphis, Miami, Las Vegas and Fort Worth.

Top 15 Cities with the Shortest Average Wait Times
Minneapolis, MN 16.32
Seattle, WA 16.38
Milwaukee, WI 16.56
Omaha, NE 16.90
Portland, OR 17.26
Denver, CO 17.39
San Diego, CA 17.62
Austin, TX 17.94
Colorado Springs, CO 17.98
San Francisco, CA 18.28
Charlotte, NC 18.45
Cleveland, OH 18.52
Sacramento, CA 18.61
Indianapolis, IN 18.72
Raleigh, NC 18.82

Analyzed by major cities, the Midwest has the shortest average wait time at 19 minutes. The Southwest region had the longest average wait time at 22 minutes.

Average Wait Time by Region*
Midwest 18.87 minutes
West 19.33 minutes
Northeast 21.17 minutes
Southeast 23.50 minutes
Southwest 21.72 minutes

*Data is based on wait time averages from major U.S. cities within each region.

Wait Times Gap between Primary Care and Specialty Medicine

Vitals also analyzed wait times among primary care physicians and specialists and found primary care average wait times to be six minutes shorter than those of specialists. Among the 52 specialties analyzed, radiation oncologists, phlebologists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons and plastic surgeons had the lowest wait times, averaging around 17 minutes. Patients can expect to wait the longest to see orthopedic surgeons, emergency physicians, addiction medicine specialists, anesthesiologists and pain management specialists, with average wait times between 22 and 24 minutes.

"Vitals focuses on empowering patients with the tools and resources they need to make informed healthcare decisions and take charge of their health," said Cutler. "It's exciting to see more physicians and patients embrace the Internet as a tool to connect with one another and improve the patient experience."

About Vitals
Vitals empowers consumers with the tools and services they need to take charge of their health. Vitals is the only website dedicated to helping patients find doctors that meet their needs, request appointments and prepare for their visit with our condition-specific Patient Guides. Used by over 9 million people each month, Vitals makes it easy for patients to find and connect with quality medical care. Visit Vitals on Facebook or connect with Vitals on Twitter.

Contact Information

  • Media Contact:
    Amendola Communications for Vitals
    Brenda Bryan
    480.664.8412 ext. 13
    Email Contact