Zulfiqar Rana, MD, MPH, FACP

Board Certified in Internal Medicine

Average time patients spend waiting

The average time patients spend waiting to see a health-care provider is 22 minutes. Orthopedists have the longest waits, at 29 minutes; dermatologists the shortest, at 20.

Patient satisfaction dropped significantly with each 5 minutes of waiting time. Even the term “waiting room” has a bad connotation. Many offices prefer “reception area” instead.

“I live my life in seven-minute intervals,” says Laurie Green, a obstetrician-gynecologist in San Francisco who delivers 400 to 500 babies a year and says she needs to bring in $70 every 15 minutes just to meet her office overhead.

Measures the health-care industry is trying to minimize waiting time include:

– “Open-access” scheduling
– Minimize office visits
– Advance preparation
– Huddling up: “Mr. Jones is in a 15-minute slot, but we know he’s a 45-minute guy”
– Teamwork
– Cutting “cycle time”
– Keep patients informed
– Survey patients

References:The Doctor Will See You Eventually. WSJ..


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