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

By April 4, 2012Press, Press Releases

Wait Time Trends Show Gap between Primary Care and Specialty Medicine

Lyndhurst, N.J. April 4, 2012 – 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 determines how a patient feels about their office visit, with today’s busy lifestyles it’s important for patients to know how long they can expect to wait to receive the care they need,” said Mitch Rothschild, CEO of Vitals. “When a patient pairs wait time information with other physician quality measures, they can then determine if the wait is worth it.”

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


15 minutes, 26 seconds

New Hampshire

15 minutes, 40 seconds


16 minutes, one second


16 minutes, 32 seconds


16 minutes, 40 seconds


Bottom 5 States with the Longest Average Wait Times


25 minutes, four seconds


24 minutes, 32 seconds

West Virginia

  24 minutes, 9 seconds


23 minutes, 30 seconds


23 minutes, 28 seconds

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 – 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 and 15 seconds, El Paso came in eight minutes over the national average, the longest of any city analyzed. The second longest city was Memphis (27 minutes and six seconds), followed by Miami, Las Vegas and Fort Worth.

Top 15 Cities with the Shortest Average Wait Times

Minneapolis, MN

16 minutes, 19 seconds

Seattle, WA

16 minutes, 23 seconds

Milwaukee, WI

16 minutes, 34 seconds

Omaha, NE

16 minutes, 54 seconds

Portland, OR

17 minutes, 16 seconds

Denver, CO

17 minutes, 23 seconds

San Diego, CA

17 minutes, 37 seconds

Austin, TX

17 minutes, 56 seconds

Colorado Springs, CO

17 minutes, 59 seconds

San Francisco, CA

18 minutes, 17 seconds

Charlotte, NC

18 minutes, 27 seconds

Cleveland, OH

18 minutes, 31 seconds

Sacramento, CA

18 minutes, 37 seconds

Indianapolis, IN

18 minutes, 43 seconds

Raleigh, NC

18 minutes, 49 seconds

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*


18 minutes, 52 seconds


19 minutes, 19 seconds


21 minutes, 10 seconds


23 minutes, 30 seconds


21 minutes, 43 seconds

*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.

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