Answer: 20 minutes.
At least, that’s according to Vitals 2016 Wait Time Report.
Vitals analyzed ratings patients left for doctors and correlated it to patient-reported wait times.
Their findings: After 20 minutes, patient sentiment starts to suffer. For instance, 49 percent of patients who had a 15-minute wait rated their doctor positively. Yet, only 27 percent of patients who waited for 45 minutes ultimately left a positive physician review.
Deeper analysis of reviews mentioning wait time revealed negative sentiments began even before the appointment with patients complaining about being kept on hold or not being able to get through to the office. Some also groused about not being able to get into the office for weeks – or even months.
Negative doctor-patient experiences were also common with long wait times. Patients were more likely to complain of “rude” doctors or “wrong” diagnosis or prescriptions, leading many to succinctly conclude: “Don’t waste your time or money.”
In contrast, patients mentioning wait times in positive ratings were likely to “highly recommend” the doctor. The doctors were often labeled “friendly,” “kind” and “caring.” In fact, it seems temperament can trump time. Patients said an extended wait was “worth it” for a doctor who was “thorough” and “took time to listen” and “didn’t rush” during appointments.
Wait Time Effect on Doctor Rating
|Star Rating||Average Wait Time|
|5||12 min, 56 sec|
|4||18 min, 19 sec|
|3||21 min, 40 sec|
|2||26 min, 11 sec|
|1||33 min, 1 sec|
“As a doctor, it’s critical to be skilled, but it’s also important to treat patients well,” said Mitch Rothschild, Founder and Chairman of Vitals. “What our analysis tells us is that wait time is an important factor in the patient experience and doctors who manage the clock effectively build better doctor-patient relationships.”
Read the full 2016 Wait Time Report on Vitals.