Annual Analysis of Average Patient Wait Times Finds We’re Waiting Longer

Time spent in the waiting room is often a benchmark when patients consider choosing a doctor. According to our annual report analyzing U.S. trends in patient care, the shortest average physician wait time in 2012 actually increased more than a full minute from 2011. Alaska topped this year’s list of states with the shortest average wait time of 16 minutes, 28 seconds. Last year, Wisconsin led with an average wait of 15 minutes, 26 seconds.

Patient wait times 300x199 Annual Analysis of Average Patient Wait Times Finds Were Waiting Longer Photo

Get used to this scene – our annual analysis finds we’re waiting longer to see our doctors.

Each year, we aggregate patient reviews and rankings of doctors and hospitals from our database of over 870,000 physicians to learn more about nationwide wait time trends. Vitals CEO Mitch Rothschild pointed out how this patient-reported data will continue to become more important:

“As the supply of qualified doctors remains unchanged, the new health care law requires 30 million more Americans to have health insurance. This flood of new demand is causing a major disruption to the system. For the unchanging supply of doctors, it will mean less time to spend with patients in examination rooms. It also has a direct impact on how long it takes to see a doctor – and ultimately weighs into how consumers choose their providers.”

Wisconsin, which led the nation with the shortest wait time last year, dropped to number two in this year’s rankings with an average delay of 16 minutes, 29 seconds. The remaining top five states with shortest physician wait times include Minnesota, New Hampshire and North Dakota. Mississippi repeated for a second year as the state with the longest wait, with an average wait time of 24 minutes, 25 seconds – although the total time decreased by 22 seconds from 2011. Rounding out the bottom five with the longest physician wait times are Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Nevada.

Top 5 States with the Shortest Average Wait Times


16 minutes, 28 seconds


16 minutes, 29 seconds


17 minutes, 8 seconds

New Hampshire

17 minutes, 10 seconds

North Dakota

17 minutes, 43 seconds


Bottom 5 States with the Longest Average Wait Times


   24 minutes, 25 seconds


24 minutes, 3 seconds


          23 minutes, 40 seconds


23 minutes, 3 seconds


23 minutes, 2 seconds

In major cities, Denver, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Seattle and Portland had the shortest wait times. Denver leads the list of major U.S. cities with the shortest physician wait time of 15 minutes, 25 seconds. For the second year, the longest waiting major U.S city was El Paso, Texas with an average wait time of 29 minutes, 6 seconds. The other major cities with slow physician wait times included Fresno, Memphis, Miami, and Las Vegas.

Top 15 Cities with the Shortest Average Wait Times

Denver, CO

15 minutes, 15 seconds

Minneapolis, MN

15 minutes, 44 seconds

Milwaukee, WI

16 minutes, 2 seconds

Seattle, WA

16 minutes, 25 seconds

Portland, OR

16 minutes, 28 seconds

Omaha, NE

16 minutes, 34 seconds

Raleigh, NC

16 minutes, 51 seconds

Oakland, CA

17 minutes, 15 seconds

San Diego, CA

17 minutes, 17 seconds

Austin, TX

17 minutes, 22 seconds

Boston, MA

17 minutes, 23 seconds

Albuquerque, NM

17 minutes, 33 seconds

San Jose, CA

18 minutes, 19 seconds

San Francisco, CA

18 minutes, 30 seconds

Charlotte, NC

18 minutes, 39 seconds

The Vitals Physicians Wait Time Report is designed to provide transparency in all levels of health care to enable smarter decisions for consumers.

How long do you typically wait to see your doctor? Tell us below, and don’t forget to include it when you review your doctor!