NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 5, 2009

Appointment wait times to see a specialist or family doctor have increased on average by more than a week since 2004, according to a study by Merritt Hawkins and Associates, a consulting firm the specializes in recruiting physicians and other health care professionals. 

Researchers surveyed more than 1,150 medical offices in 15 cities and measured average appointment wait times in family practices as well as four specialties: cardiology, dermatology, obstetrics/gynecology and orthopedic surgery.

The results showed:

  • On average, wait times have increased by 8.6 days per city.
  • Boston had the longest wait, averaging 49.6 days, followed by Philadelphia with 27 and Los Angeles with 24.2; the shortest was Atlanta with an 11.2-day wait.
  • In all cities among all the specialties, the wait was 20.5 days.           

Researchers determined that one solution to the long wait times might lie in training more physicians, particularly primary care physicians.  We have been training the same number of doctors for the past 25 years, but a lot has changed in the last quarter-century, they say.

Source: Erin Thompson, "Wait times to see doctor are getting longer," USA Today, June 4, 2009; based upon: Merritt Hawkins and Associates, "2009 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times," Merritt Hawkins and Associates, 2009.

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For Merritt Hawkins survey: 


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