8th Annual Report Finds Wait Time Tied to Patient Satisfaction
March 22, 2017 – LYNDHURST, NJ – When it comes to patients rating doctors, wait time is a significant factor. There’s a strong correlation between the amount of time a patient waits and the rating they ultimately leave a doctor.
Vitals studied millions of reviews left by patients for doctors to see how wait times correlate to star ratings. Physicians with five-stars, the highest doctor rating on Vitals, had a 12-minute, 33 second wait on average. In contrast, doctors with a 1-star, the lowest rating, had a wait time average of 33-minute, 4 second wait.
Wait Time Effect on Doctor Rating
|Star Rating||Average Wait Time|
|5||12 min, 33 sec|
|4||18 min, 19 sec|
|3||21 min, 55 sec|
|2||26 min, 33 sec|
|1||33 min, 4 sec|
“Wait time alone is probably not the cause of the bad rating,” said Mitch Rothschild, Founder and Chairman of Vitals. “More likely, a doctor who can’t watch the clock may not be effectively managing other parts of the practice that impact the patient experience.”
Downward Trend for National and Regional Wait Times
Nationally, the average time a person waits for a doctor is 18 minutes and 35 seconds. Compared to last year, this is a decrease of 1 minute, 16 seconds. Even more, wait times are down 13 percent since Vitals first started reporting on the data in 2009.
Alternative care facilities like urgent care centers and retail clinics could be taking the burden off primary care doctors. Infusion centers and outpatient surgery centers have also become more popular options for specialty services. In addition, primary care doctors, who’ve been feeling pressure from these facilities, have expanded hours, adding weekend and evening hours for patients who work. This has reduced the weekday crush at most doctor offices.
“With alternative care facilities, telemedicine and even at-home diagnostic kids, in the not too distant future we’ll only see our doctor for the most serious conditions,” said Rothschild. “For now, though, we’re seeing that expanded consumer choice has had a direct impact on wait times over the past 8 years.”
Wait times in Milwaukee were the shortest this year at 13 minutes and 22 seconds. Portland, Minneapolis, Anchorage and Seattle also ranked in the top five.
For the sixth year in a row, El Paso’s wait time was at the bottom of the list. The average reported wait time increased 52 seconds for an average wait of nearly 26 minutes. Memphis, Las Vegas, Miami and Detroit were also at the bottom of the ranking.
2017 Cities with Shortest Wait Time
|City||Average Wait Time|
|Milwaukee||13 min, 22 sec|
|Portland||13 min, 34 sec|
|Minneapolis||13 min, 41 sec|
|Anchorage||14 min, 5 sec|
|Seattle||14 min, 12 sec|
2017 Cities with Longest Wait Time
|City||Average Wait Time|
|El Paso||25 min, 57 sec|
|Memphis||21 min, 32 sec|
|Las Vegas||21 min, 4 sec|
|Miami||20 min, 25 sec|
|Detroit||19 min, 43 sec|
Specialist Wait Times
The Vitals Index also found that wait times differ by specialist. Dentists keep patients waiting a mere 8 minutes and 27 seconds. Child psychologists, radiation oncologists, plastic surgeons and chiropractors also had short wait times.
On the other side of the spectrum, emergency doctors had the longest wait times, averaging 23 minutes, 16 seconds.
2017 Doctor Specialists with Shortest Wait Time
|Specialty||Average Wait Time|
|General Dentistry||8 min, 27 sec|
|Child Psychology||10 min, 59 sec|
|Radiation Oncology||10 min, 59 sec|
|Plastic Surgery||12 min, 28 sec|
|Chiropractic Medicine||12 min, 35 sec|
Vitals’ annual Physician Wait Time Report, now in its eighth year, was compiled from patient-reported wait times in 2016.
Vitals empowers everyone to shop for their health care like an expert. We bring together cost and quality transparency along with innovative consumer engagement programs to help people select high-quality, lower-cost care. Vitals leads the market with incentive and engagement programs that pay people to shop. Our solutions achieve measurable and sustainable savings for consumers, employers and health plans. Vitals helps more than 120 million people each year access better, more affordable care.