N.J. residents spend more minutes in doctors’ waiting rooms

New Jersey patients can expect to wait nearly 20 minutes on average to see their doctor, according to an analysis of online reviews by more than 95,000 patients.

The patients included wait times as part of their opinions posed on the Lyndhurst-based website vitals.com.

That site found a fair amount of regional variation: Patients in Wisconsin waited an average of 15 minutes before seeing a doctor, while those in Alabama waited an average of 23 minutes.

The national average has dropped gradually from 2009, when the website first compiled wait-time data, through 2016, going from 21 minutes to 18 minutes. The data was based on reviews by over six million users of the site.

New Jersey’s wait time remains longer than the national average, at 19 minutes, 23 seconds. That’s nearly identical to the 2009 figure of 19 minutes, 30 seconds.

The amount of time a patient waits to be seen appears to be a strong component of overall satisfaction, the website numbers revealed: The shorter the wait, the more stars the health-care provider received in his or her overall review.

Those with ratings of just one star had an average wait time of more than 33 minutes, while those with the top rating of five stars saw their patients after a 12-minute wait.

“Wait time alone is probably not the cause of the bad rating,” said Mitch Rothschild, Founder and Chairman of Vitals. “More likely, a doctor who can’t watch the clock may not be effectively managing other parts of the practice that impact the patient experience.”

The providers who tend to have the shortest wait times? Dentists, child psychologists, radiation oncologists, plastic surgeons and chiropractors.

Expect longer waits at the emergency room, where the average was over 23 minutes.

Rothschild attributes the small but steady drop in wait times to the increased number of choices patients now have. They can go to an urgent care clinic, a chain pharmacy, or even rely on home testing for certain chronic conditions. In…

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