Doc Wait Times Costing Patients More Time, Money: Study

Here’s something else to make your blood boil next time you’re sitting in a doctor’s office waiting for your appointment: New research shows patients are spending more time than ever booking and waiting for an appointment — and it’s costing us all money, as well as time.

The new study, by Harvard Medical School and published in the American Journal of Managed Care, calculates how many minutes patients spend seeking medical care — and the dollar value of their time lost from work. Among the findings:

A typical visit to a doctor consumes an average of 121 minutes of the patient’s time — 37 minutes in travel, 64 minutes waiting for care or filling out forms.
The average time spent with a physician: 20 minutes at most.
It costs the average patient $43 in lost time for each doctor visit — more than the typical out-of-pocket cost for the care itself (about $32), based on the average sum a person could earn if working during that time.
Americans spent 1.1 billion hours every year obtaining such care for themselves or others — time the researchers valued at $52 billion.