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Patient wait times increased 30% since 2014: 5 survey findings

The time patients wait to schedule a physician appointment has reached its highest point in more than 10 years, according to a Merritt Hawkins report.

The report, titled The 2017 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times and Medicare and Medicaid Acceptance Rates, analyzed the time it takes to schedule a new physician appointment in 15 large metropolitan areas and 15 mid-sized metropolitan areas.

Here are five things to know.

1. Today, it takes an average of 24 days to schedule a new physician appointment in a large U.S. city.

2. The 24-day average noted in 2017 marks a 30 percent increase since 2014, when the average was 18.5 days. The average was 20.5 days in 2009 and 21 days in 2004, according to previous Merritt Hawkins reports.

3. Of the 15 large cities, Boston experienced the longest average physician wait times, with an average of 52 days to schedule an appointment.

4. Dallas experienced the shortest average physician wait times for the 15 large cities, with an average of 15 days to schedule an appointment.

5. In mid-sized cities, the average time to schedule a new physician appointment was 32 days — 33 percent longer than in the large metropolitan markets. In part, this is because mid-sized cities have fewer physicians per capita, said Mark Smith, president of Merritt Hawkins.

"Physician appointment wait times are the longest they have been since we began conducting the survey," Mr. Smith said. "Growing physician appointment wait times are significant indicator that the nation is experiencing a shortage of physicians."

Click here to view the full report.

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