New survey: Physician appointment wait times getting longer

January 5, 2023

The time it takes to schedule a new patient physician appointment continues to rise. That is one key finding of the new AMN Healthcare/Merritt Hawkins “2022 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times and Medicare and Medicaid Acceptance Rates.” First conducted in 2004, the survey tracks the time it takes to schedule a physician appointment in five medical specialties in 15 major metropolitan areas. The average wait time has increased by eight percent since 2017, the last year the survey was conducted, and by 24 percent from 2004, the first year the survey was conducted. Join us from 12-1 p.m. Jan. 10 for a webinar to learn more!

The 2022 survey indicates that it now takes an average of 26 days to schedule a new patient physician appointment in 15 of the largest cities in the United States, up from 24.1 days in 2017 and up from 21 days in 2004.

The survey includes physician appointment wait time data for Seattle in five specialties: obstetrics/gynecology, cardiology, orthopedic surgery, dermatology and family medicine. The average wait time for all five specialties in Seattle is 28.2 days.

The average wait time for a cardiology appointment in Seattle is 29 days, the average for orthopedic surgery is 21 days, the average for dermatology is 45 days and the average for obstetrics/gynecology is 22 days.

Major cities, like those included in the survey, have some of the highest ratios of physicians per capita in the country, yet the survey indicates physician appointment wait times are increasing. That is a sobering sign for the rest of the country, where there often are fewer physicians per population than in large cities.

MHA 2022 Survey Wait Times

Appointment Wait Times Down in Family Medicine

Family medicine is the only specialty in which average appointment wait times were down relative to 2017, according to the survey. The average wait time for a family medicine appointment is 20.6 days for all cities, down from 29.3 days in 2017, a 30 percent decrease. The average wait time for a family medicine appointment in Seattle is 24 days.

The decline in family medicine appointment wait times can be attributed to a major shift over the last several years in how patients access primary care. A growing number of patients are accessing primary care through urgent care centers, retail clinics and telemedicine – venues that typically are staffed by nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs).

The number of urgent care centers and retail clinics is growing rapidly, creating a new front door to the health care system. As a result, accessing a family physician, while still challenging, can be less difficult.

The survey includes appointment wait time and Medicare and Medicaid acceptance data from 1,034 physician offices located in 15 metropolitan areas, including Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minnesota, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, San Diego, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

MHA 2022 Wait Times

Merritt Hawkins is a Washington Hospital Services Industry Partner. The Industry Partner program connects hospitals with product and service organizations to create efficiencies, lower costs and deliver exceptional health care. For a complete copy of the AMN Healthcare/Merritt Hawkins thought leadership resource, contact Ed Phippen,, (206) 216-2556. (Cynthia Hay)


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