The average wait time for a new patient to see a doctor in the Dayton area is just over three weeks, but that’s still about a week shorter than the average waiting period in many other mid-sized metro areas, according to a new study.
The average wait time between scheduling a routine appointment and seeing a physician in the Dayton area is 24.6 days, compared to an average of 32 days for all 15 metro areas of similar size examined in the study from Merritt Hawkins, a Dallas-based physician-staffing firm that has been monitoring doctor’s office wait times since 2004.
Only three of the medium-sized metros had shorter wait times than Dayton — Lafayette, Ind.; Hampton, Va.; and Billings, Mont., where wait times were 24 days, 19.2 days and 10.8 days, respectively.
Local experts attribute the Dayton area’s relatively short wait time to the high number of physicians and medical facilities per capita.
Still, the 32-day average for the mid-sized markets was significantly higher than the 24.1-day average for 30 large metro areas included in the study.
Researchers based their findings on attempts to make appointments at 494 physician offices in the mid-sized markets, and 1,414 physician offices in the large markets, including family practices, OB-GYNs, cardiologists, dermatologists and orthopedic doctors.
This year was the first year the study tracked wait times in mid-sized metropolitan areas. But the study found wait times have spiked over the past several years in many large metro areas, even though wait times are generally shorter there than in smaller markets.
The average wait time to see a family medicine physician in larger markets, for example, is 29 days — up 50 percent from 2014, coinciding with the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which has provided health coverage for millions of newly insured Americans.