Feature

Wait times for ob.gyn. visits up by 9 days since 2014


 

New patients are waiting 9 days longer for an appointment with an ob.gyn. in 2017 than they did in 2014, according to physician recruitment firm Merritt Hawkins.

The average wait time for a new patient to see an ob.gyn. for a routine gynecologic exam was 26.4 days in 2017, a nearly 53% increase from the 17.3 days reported in 2014. Investigators called and made appointments with 286 randomly-selected ob.gyns. in 15 large cities in January and February during the fourth such survey the company has conducted since 2004.

Average wait times for new-patient appointments
This year, the survey also included ob.gyns. in 15 midsized cities for the first time. The average wait time in those cities was shorter: 23.1 days for the 100 offices contacted. Fort Smith, Ark., had the longest average midsize-city wait of 44 days, while Billings, Mont., had a shortest-for-the-group average of 6 days. In the large cities, the longest average wait was 51 days (Philadelphia), and the shortest wait was 12 days in Minneapolis and Los Angeles, Merritt Hawkins reported.

The survey also included four other specialties – cardiology, dermatology, family medicine, and orthopedic surgery – and the average wait time for a new-patient appointment for all 1,414 physicians in all five specialties in the 15 large cities was 24.1 days, an increase of 30% over 2014. The average wait time for all specialties in the mid-sized cities was 32 days for the 494 offices surveyed, the company said.

“Physician appointment wait times are the longest they have been since we began conducting the survey,” Mark Smith, president of Merritt Hawkins, said in a statement. “Growing physician appointment wait times are a significant indicator that the nation is experiencing a shortage of physicians.”

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