Patient wait time for family practice appointments

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Waiting time goes down from 2017 to 2022 to meet with primary care physicians.

Physician recruiting firm Merritt Hawkins recently published “2022 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times and Medicare and Medicaid Acceptance Rates,” published this month by physician recruiting firm Merritt Hawkins. The study from spring 2022 examined wait times for nonemergent conditions among 1,034 physician offices with five specialties in 15 major cities across the United States.

This slideshow has a list of 15 cities with the shortest and longest average waiting times for appointments with family physicians. Other data show the average time to an appointment in 2017, the last year the survey was completed, and the 2022 and 2017 shortest and longest times to appointments.

Shorter wait times sound like good news for people seeking appointments with family physicians. But Merritt Hawkins said the report indicated trends that could be future difficulties for patients and physicians.

Among family practices, the shorter wait times indicate “a major shift” in primary care as physicians face more competition – and patients get treatment – from urgent care centers, retail clinics, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.

Meanwhile, average wait times are growing for nonemergency consultations in cardiology, dermatology, obstetrics-gynecology, and orthopedic surgery. Those figures support projections of looming physician shortages across the United States in coming years, according to the report.