Longer Clinic Wait Times in U.S. Linked to Race and Employment

According to U.S. data from 2005-2013, minorities and the unemployed spend more time traveling to and waiting for medical care. The researchers used survey responses from almost 4,000 adults as well as a separate survey of 150,000 office-based doctor visits between 2006 and 2010. Patients spent an average of 86 minutes in the clinic and 38 minutes travel time.

White patients spent an average of 80 minutes in the clinic while Hispanic patients spent 105 minutes there. JAMA Internal Medicine reported that travel times to medical clinics tended to be longer for minorities and the unemployed. White patients traveled an average of 36 minutes and black patients traveled 45 minutes. 

Innovations such as open access scheduling, eliminating over-booking of scheduled visits, re-engineering practice design to improve patient flow, and reducing patient visits through telemedicine or virtual consults have all been tested. It is unclear which method works best in increasing access to care, but it is important to make sure that these innovations and emerging models of care are equally accessible to all healthcare consumers.

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