Shortest Average Wait Time for Doctors Increased to Over 16 Minutes

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Time spent in the waiting room is often a benchmark when patients consider choosing a doctor. According to a Vitals annual report analyzing US trends in patient care, the shortest average physician wait time in 2012 actually increased more than a full minute from 2011. Alaska topped this year’s list of states with the shortest average wait time of 16 minutes, 28 seconds. Last year, Wisconsin led with an average wait of 15 minutes, 26 seconds.

Vitals, the creator of the first consumer marketplace for health care information, aggregates patient reviews and rankings of doctors and hospitals across the US. For its fourth annual Physician Wait Time Report, Vitals analyzed patient-reported wait times from its database of over 870,000 physicians to learn more about nationwide wait time trends.

“As the supply of qualified doctors remains unchanged, the new health care law requires 30 million more Americans to have health insurance,” said Mitch Rothschild, CEO, Vitals.com. “This 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. It also has a direct impact on how long it takes to see a doctor – and ultimately weighs into how consumers choose their providers.”

Wisconsin, which led the nation with the shortest wait time last year, dropped to number two in this year’s rankings with an average delay of 16 minutes, 29 seconds. The remaining top five states with shortest physician wait times include Minnesota, New Hampshire and North Dakota. Mississippi repeated for a second year as the state with the longest wait, with an average wait time of 24 minutes, 25 seconds – although the total time decreased by 22 seconds from 2011. Rounding out the bottom five with the longest physician wait times are Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Nevada.

 
Top 5 States with the Shortest Average Wait Times
Alaska     16 minutes, 28 seconds
Wisconsin     16 minutes, 29 seconds
Minnesota     17 minutes, 8 seconds
New Hampshire     17 minutes, 10 seconds
North Dakota     17 minutes, 43 seconds
       
 
Bottom 5 States with the Longest Average Wait Times
Mississippi     24 minutes, 25 seconds
Alabama     24 minutes, 3 seconds
Arkansas     23 minutes, 40 seconds
Louisiana     23 minutes, 3 seconds
Nevada     23 minutes, 2 seconds
       

In major cities, Denver, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Seattle and Portland had the shortest wait times. Denver leads the list of major US cities with the shortest physician wait time of 15 minutes, 15 seconds. For the second year, the longest waiting major US city was El Paso, Texas with an average wait time of 29 minutes, 6 seconds. The other major cities with slow physician wait times included Fresno, Memphis, Miami, and Las Vegas.

 
Top 15 Cities with the Shortest Average Wait Times
Denver, CO     15 minutes, 15 seconds
Minneapolis, MN     15 minutes, 44 seconds
Milwaukee, WI     16 minutes, 2 seconds
Seattle, WA     16 minutes, 25 seconds
Portland, OR     16 minutes, 28 seconds
Omaha, NE     16 minutes, 34 seconds
Raleigh, NC     16 minutes, 51 seconds
Oakland, CA     17 minutes, 15 seconds
San Diego, CA     17 minutes, 17 seconds
Austin, TX     17 minutes, 22 seconds
Boston, MA     17 minutes, 23 seconds
Albuquerque, NM     17 minutes, 33 seconds
San Jose, CA     18 minutes, 19 seconds
San Francisco, CA     18 minutes, 30 seconds
Charlotte, NC     18 minutes, 39 seconds
       

Vitals’ products and services are available to over 80 million consumers, to help them build quality relationships with doctors and specialists and make informed, confident decisions about their care. Powered by actionable data, Vitals’ platform empowers consumers at their point of decision, and helps health plans deliver greater value to members and reduce cost. Vitals.com Physicians Wait Time Report is designed to provide transparency in all levels of health care to enable smarter decisions for consumers.