According to an article in USA Today by Erin Thompson, there is an increase in length of time to obtain an appointment at a doctor’s office, by as much as several months in urban areas.
This was supported by a study done by the consulting firm Merritt Hawkins who surveyed more than eleven hundred medical offices in 15 cities. They analyzed four specialties: obstetrics/gynecology,cardiology, orthopedic surgery, and dermatology as well as family practices. An 8.6 day increase was seen in wait times with Boston having the longest wait in the survey and Atlanta with the lowest increase. On average in all cities the wait was 20.5 days.
Phil Miller, the vice president of public relations for Merritt Hawkins feels that the answer to alleviate the wait problem is to train more doctors especially in primary care.
Richard Cooper, professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania feels that the supply of doctors have been restricted due to the manner of government spending on education while attempting to increase medical access with a greater number of people being insured. This will incur a greater demand for physicians.
When asked about the medical care shortage, Heyman, the chairman of the American Medical Association stated that patients historically have reduced access to medical care due to health care program budget cuts to health care professionals. He feels that Medicaid and Medicare need to be financed in a manner that will work beneficially for both patients and physicians.
However, with the advent of new technology whereby patients are monitored at home for certain ailments like high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiac and pulmonary disease symptoms and advised via electronic devices, the need for office visits will decline. This in itself will diminish the pressure on the medical community to be seen.
Those patients who have demonstrated a greater need to be seen through this monitoring of symptoms, laboratory results and vital signs will find greater availability of office appointments.