Monday, May 11, 2009

News You Can Use: Is Boston the new Toronto?

I know most of us are only accustomed to hearing reports of extended wait times to see physicians come from other nations, so findings revealing long (I mean loooong) wait times here in the U.S. may come as a shock to you.

In a recent report on, Associate Editor Lydell Bridgeford reveals that, according to a new survey, for some patients, seeing a medical specialist can mean waiting more than two months.

Merritt Hawkins and Associates, a physician search and consulting firm, conducted a survey of 1,162 medical offices to track the average time needed to schedule a doctor appointment in 15 large metropolitan areas. The firm focused on medical specialties, such as cardiology, dermatology, obstetrics/gynecology, orthopedic surgery and family practice.

For example, Boston had the longest average doctor appointment wait times: 70 days to see an obstetrician/gynecologist, 63 days to see a family physician, 54 days to see a dermatologist, 40 days to see an orthopedic surgeon, and 21 days to see a cardiologist.

Next on the list were Philadelphia and Los Angeles, with average doctor appointment wait times exceeding 45 days in some specialties, followed by Houston, Washington, D.C., San Diego, Minneapolis, Dallas, Miami, New York, Denver, Portland, Seattle, Detroit and Atlanta.

Overall, wait times tracked in the survey varied from one day to one year. “Due to the doctor shortage, finding an available physician can be challenging today, even in large urban areas where most doctors practice,” explains Mark Smith, president of Merritt Hawkins and Associates.

Smith believes if access to health care is expanded through a national reform plan, then seeing physicians in a timely manner would be even more problematic for many patients nationwide.

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