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Satisfaction with wait time varies by city
In Charleston, SC, and Ann Arbor, MI, patients wait an average of 10 minutes to see their doctor. That may not sound too bad, but it depends on your perspective. In a national survey last year by the National Research Corp. (NRC) in Lincoln, NE, Ann Arbor came out on top in satisfaction with wait time while Charleston was at the bottom.
People in different parts of the country may have different expectations, notes Phil Richmond, manager of public relations for the NRC. The level of managed care penetration also may affect expectations and satisfaction, he says. "We are getting to the point where managed care is becoming the standard on a national level. It takes some time to get used to."
NRC conducts a national, mailed survey every year, targeting a representative sample of the U.S. population. This year, about 170,000 people responded, representing about 400,000 covered lives. They answered 100 questions related to their health care and health status.
The 1999 results, published in the NRC Health-care Market Guide, revealed some concerns about physician communication and access. Some 18% of respondents rated the amount of time they spent with doctors as fair or poor. One in four (25.9%) gave a rating of fair or poor to the time it took for physicians to return phone calls, and 28% gave a fair or poor to "wait time past appointment." (For a look at the differences by metropolitan area, see boxes, p. 136.)
|Percentage of Patients Who Saw the Doctor with No Wait|
|1. Harrisburg, PA||45%|
|3. Hartford, CT||42.9%|
|4. San Francisco||42.7%|
|6. Tulsa, OK||42.6%|
|2. Memphis, TN||28.1%|
|3. Stockton, CA||28.6%|
|4. Ventura, CA||29%|
|5. New Orleans||29.1%|
|Percentage of Excellent or Very Good Wait Times|
|1. Omaha, NE||55.6%|
|2. Syracuse, NY||53%|
|3. Evansville, IL||52.6%|
|4. Rochester, NY||52.4%|
|5. Spokane, WA||52.3%|
|1. Daytona Beach, FL||39.0%|
|2. West Palm Beach, FL||39.1%|
|3. New York City||39.2%|
|4. Memphis, TN||39.3%|
|5. Fort Lauderdale, FL||39.8%|
|Source for both charts: National Research Corp., Lincoln, NE.|
[Editor’s note: For more information on the NRC Healthcare Market Guide, contact the National Research Corp., Gold’s Galleria, 1033 O St., Lincoln, NE 68508. Telephone: (800) 388-4264. Fax: (402) 475-9061.]