When you’re feeling under the weather or have sustained an injury, the last thing you’ll want to do is spend hours in the waiting room of your doctor’s office or the ER. Long wait times translate to delayed care and decreased patient satisfaction. Essentially, that means that the longer you have to wait to see a physician, the more negative your healthcare experience. If you’re trying to figure out whether you should make an appointment with your doctor, go to the ER, or visit a skip the wait urgent care center, consider the following:

The Effect of Wait Time on Patient SatisfactionStudies have found that the amount of time patients spend waiting has a significant impact on how they feel about their doctors. A report released by Vitals, a healthcare consumer engagement group, found that physicians who received five-star ratings had average wait times of 12 minutes and 33 seconds. On the other end of the spectrum, doctors who had only one-star ratings had average wait times of 33 minutes and four seconds. This doesn’t necessarily mean that longer wait times equates to greater dissatisfaction, researchers point out; it could be that time mismanagement can result in longer periods in the waiting room and other negative appointment outcomes.

That said, shorter wait times have become a priority for both patients and healthcare providers. Since Vitals started reporting this data in 2009, wait times have decreased by approximately 13%. On a national level, patients wait an average of 18 minutes and 35 seconds to be seen by a doctor. Of course, the type of facility — a doctor’s office, an urgent care clinic, or an emergency department — will have a big effect on how long you have to wait (and your perception of care).

Why Urgent Care Clinics Win OutWhen you make an appointment at your physician’s office or go to the emergency room, there are a number of factors that can impact wait time. When you go to the ER, in particular, you may face wait times of several hours, depending on how busy it is and how life-threatening your condition might be. When you see your regular doctor — assuming you’re even able to secure an appointment in a timely manner — you may still have to wait 30 minutes or longer to be seen.

But when you want to skip the wait urgent care is often your best bet. The Urgent Care Association of America’s 2016 Benchmarking Report found that 92% of urgent care clinics maintained wait times of 30 minutes or less in 2015. Another survey found that approximately 57% of urgent care patients experience wait times of less than 15 minutes. Some urgent care locations even offer the ability to make an appointment or check in online to keep wait times even lower.

When you’re seen for healthcare concerns more quickly, you’re able to receive a diagnosis and start appropriate treatment more quickly too. Not only does this efficiency mean less wasted time for you, but it also means you’ll be feeling like yourself again in no time. To find out more about our skip the wait urgent care options, please contact us today.