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How Physicians Can Reduce Patient Wait Times

Anna Webster, for HealthLeaders Media, December 1, 2010

According to provisions of the Accountable Care Act, an expected 40–50 million previously uninsured patients will be gaining healthcare access during the next 10 years. As a result, savvy physician practices are preparing for the increased demand with a team approach to care delivery that is designed to cut down wait times and optimize physician face time. 

The high demand for primary care doctors comes as no surprise to healthcare leaders. Ted Epperly, MD, president of the Leawood, KS-based American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), says the country will need to combat a "soaring backlog" of patient appointments by adding some 40,000 physicians over the next decade.

Wait times for an appointment to see a physician or specialist are already hitting record numbers, according to a survey by Merritt Hawkins & Associates. The survey, which includes responses from 1,162 medical offices in metropolitan areas, found the following average wait times by specialty in 2009:

Family Practice

  • Longest time: 99.6 days
  • Shortest time: 2.47 days
  • Average time: 20.3 days

Cardiology

  • Longest time: 104.4 days
  • Shortest time: 3.4 days
  • Average time: 22.1 days

Dermatology 

  • Longest time: 98.7 days
  • Shortest time: 2.5 days
  • Average time: 27.5 days

Orthopedic surgery

  • Longest time: 59.9 days
  • Shortest time: 2.9 days
  • Average time: 16.8 days
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2 comments on "How Physicians Can Reduce Patient Wait Times"


Yasser (8/2/2012 at 12:34 AM)
In OPD you need to run the clinics by units not by one or two physicians only , it means that the whole unit on call will cover the OPD starting from interns through GPs to consultants , this needs 3 or 4 clinics for the unit of medicine for one consultant and the same will be applied for all units in all departments, this will cover all patients in the same day without appointment .

tyco brahe (12/2/2010 at 1:53 PM)
Interesting how we blame Canada for such long patient wait times, when this analysis shows that, under our current system, wait times in the US to see a doctor are LONG! The average wait time in Canada is 3 weeks. Seems like it's the same or even longer here in the US.