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New York, the Doctor Will See You… When?

Using Zocdoc data to explore patient access and appointment patterns in New York, 2017

Today, being a patient requires grit and perseverance. It means being at the mercy of busy receptionists, paper calendars, unanswered voicemails or never-ending phone tag. It means calling the office to make an appointment, waiting on hold… and waiting even longer for the next available doctor’s appointment, leading us to ask:

Why does being a patient require so much patience?

Among the myriad of problems plaguing healthcare around the country, the average wait time for a physician appointment has grown 30% across major metros since 2014 - culminating in weeks, if not months, of waiting for some cities:

Average Wait Time by City

Merritt Hawkins' 2017 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times

CityWait Time
Boston52.4 days
Seattle28.0 days
Los Angeles24.2 days
Houston19.6 days
New York17.0 days
Washington D.C.16.0 days

Zocdoc started in New York in 2007 to make the healthcare journey easier and give power to the patient. One of our goals has been to improve access to care and reduce the amount of time patients wait to get in to see a doctor. After a decade of working on that mission, here’s a look at patient experiences, behaviors and patterns in the Big Apple.

Wait Times for Bookings Related to

People most commonly

booked appointments for...

*according to data from Merritt Hawkins’ 2017 survey

The urgency of bookings varies by specialty. Explore the chart below to see how wait times differ by patient age, gender, and patient type across the fifteen most commonly booked specialties on Zocdoc.

Nearly half of new patients book an appointment within 72 hours, across all specialties. Generally speaking, new patients on Zocdoc book their visits sooner than those who are returning to a doctor they’ve previously seen, perhaps because the intent of a new patient leans towards needing care for more urgent medical issues.

New Yorkers’ Urgent Appointments

Patient Type

Gender

Generation

--

of this group overall booked an appointment within 72 hours

mouse-over

Mouseover for a definition of each specialty

Zocdoc data helps highlight the patterns of New Yorkers seeking care throughout the city. In 2017, appointments were booked in 181 distinct zip codes across the five boroughs, with Gramercy Park and Murray Hill as the most popular neighborhoods (22% of bookings).

Over the course of an average 24-hour period, appointments peak in the 10 a.m. hour. This differs according to specialty, however: optometrists are most active at 12pm, nutritionists at 2 p.m., and chiropractors at 5 p.m. Other ways New Yorkers optimize their visits:

  • Early risers: Three specialties -- sports medicine, orthopedic surgeon, and allergist -- see appointments peak during the 9 a.m. hour. (No specialty reaches its peak before 9 a.m. given most doctors do not offer earlier appointment times. But if they did, we bet busy Manhattanite patients would be eager to snatch them up.)
  • Lunch rush: Acupuncturists actually increase their workload during the lunch hour. The number of appointments grew 46% in the 12pm hour relatively to the hour before, the largest increase among top 50 specialties.
  • After hours: For psychologists, almost 34% of NYC appointments were scheduled for after 5 p.m. - the highest share of any top 50 specialty on Zocdoc. 26% of all mental health appointments happen after-hours. (This could be because they offer more evening appointments.)

Check out the map below to see how appointments ebb and flow over the course of an average day.

A Day in the Life of New York Patients

NO APPOINTMENTS
MOST APPOINTMENTS
7 AM

    Hot Spots

Reducing appointment wait times is no small task. However, we’ve demonstrated that technology can help us make healthcare more efficient to improve access to care.

The outcome? Patients can find the right providers and get care when they need it. Our data shows that average wait times in New York were roughly 50% lower on Zocdoc than via traditional phone scheduling*. And for a number of popular specialties, over half of Zocdoc patients were able to find appointments within 72 hours of booking.

This means that patients on Zocdoc experience shorter average wait times across the board - no matter what specialty or reason for the appointment. Whether you’re currently sick and need the next available appointment - or totally healthy and planning ahead for your next annual physical, we’re helping reduce the amount of time it takes patients to get the care they deserve.

Zocdoc is just one piece of the puzzle. But for now, we’ll keep working to make the healthcare experience a little better for patients by improving access for ALL.

The Data

This analysis is based on all Zocdoc bookings in the New York metro area from Jan. 1, 2017 - Dec. 31, 2017. Those bookings encompass nearly 2 million appointments across nearly 150 specialties.

Healthcare providers represented in the data span the New York MSA: all five NYC boroughs, Long Island, and parts of New Jersey.

Charts 1 and 2 represent the time between booking and the selected appointment. Chart 3 represents the time of the appointment itself.

Glossary

Appointment: The office visit, or when the visit is scheduled to take place.

Booking: When the appointment time is selected by the patient (e.g. when a patient does a search on Zocdoc and selects a specific time for a future visit).

Existing patient: User who has previously booked an appointment with a specific provider on Zocdoc.

Family medicine (see chart 1): Includes bookings for annual physicals and wellness visits with primary care doctors, internists and family physicians on Zocdoc.

New patient: User on Zocdoc who is booking with a specific healthcare provider for the first time.

Wait time: Length of time (i.e. hours, days or weeks) between when a patient requests to visit the healthcare provider (or books on Zocdoc) and when their actual appointment takes place.

Want to learn more?

Reach out to press@zocdoc.com for more insights from this study.