January 29, 2014
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Average wait time to schedule physician appointment longest in Boston

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Patients in Boston experienced the longest average physician appointment wait times in a survey of 15 large metropolitan markets for five medical specialties: dermatology, cardiology, obstetrics/gynecology, orthopedic surgery and family practice.

“Finding a physician who can see you today, or 3 weeks from today, can be a challenge, even in urban areas where there is a high ratio of physicians per population,” Mark Smith, president of Merritt Hawkins, a national physician search and consulting firm, said in a press release. “The demand for doctors is simply outstripping the supply.”

The survey of 1,399 medical offices found the average wait time to see a dermatologist in Boston was 72 days. By comparison it took 66 days to see a family physician; 46 days for an obstetrician/gynecologist; 27 days for a cardiologist; and 16 days for an orthopedic surgeon. It took more than an average of 45 days to schedule a doctor appointment in Boston, according to the survey. Boston has averaged the longest physician appointment wait times among 15 cities in three surveys (2004, 2009, 2014) conducted by Merritt Hawkins.

In all surveyed metro areas, the overall average for physician appointment wait times was 19 days. According to the survey, it took an average of 49 days to see a dermatologist in Philadelphia, 28 days to see a cardiologist in Denver, 35 days to schedule an ob/gyn appointment in Portland, Ore.; 18 days to visit an orthopedic surgeon in San Diego; and 26 days to see a family physician in New York.

In the survey, Boston had the highest rate of Medicaid acceptance (73%) and Dallas had the lowest (23%). The average rate of Medicaid acceptance in the 15 markets for the five specialties was 45.7%.