Atlanta residents seeking appointments with certain specialists wait an average of 11.2 days, which is the shortest wait time among 15 cities polled in a survey released on Wednesday, the Detroit Free Press reports.
The survey, conducted by the physicians' consulting firm Merritt Hawkins & Associates, also found that Boston, at 49 days on average, had the longest wait times. According to the Free Press, Boston wait times increased after Massachusetts enacted a requirement that all residents have health insurance, which increased demand for physician visits.
For the survey, researchers called 1,162 offices of five types of specialists in 15 cities between September 2008 and March 2009 and requested the first available appointment for a new patient (Anstett, Detroit Free Press, 5/7). In addition to Atlanta and Boston, the researchers polled specialists in Denver, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Portland, San Diego, Seattle and Washington, D.C. The researchers called 10 to 20 offices in each city for each of five specialties: cardiology, dermatology, obstetrics/gynecology, orthopedic surgery and family practice (Ackerman, Houston Chronicle, 5/6). The survey found that U.S. residents on average wait 15.5 days for a cardiology appointment, 22.1 days for a dermatology appointment, 27.5 days for a ob-gyn appointment, 16.8 days for an orthopedic surgery appointment and 20.3 days for a family practice appointment (Detroit Free Press, 5/7).
The survey also measured Medicaid acceptance rates among physicians and found that Dallas had the lowest rate, with 38.6% of specialists accepting such patients (Houston Chronicle, 5/6).