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The Doctor Will See You in a Month [AUDIO]

New patients in this region of the country could wait close to four weeks for a routine physical, according to a national report on physician appointment wait times.

The survey from Merritt Hawkins calculated a 26-day wait for family physicians in the New York metro area, which includes some of New Jersey’s biggest cities. The average wait time dropped to just under 17 days when factoring in specialty visits to cardiologists, gynecologists, dermatologists, and orthopedic surgeons.

Doctors Office
Mark Harmel, Getty Images

Linda Schwimmer, vice president of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, said she wasn’t surprised by the findings, given shortages of some providers in certain areas and obstacles surrounding insurance.

“If you have commercial insurance from your employer, you can see an orthopedist very quickly,” Schwimmer said. “It’s certainly very hard, if not nearly impossible, if you have Medicaid.”

It’s expected the wait times would become even longer during 2014, given the fact the survey was conducted between June and November of last year, before millions of uninsured Americans were forced to shop for coverage.

The Dallas region performed the best in the survey, producing a five-day wait time for family physicians and just over 10 days when considering specialists. The worst performer was Boston — 66 days for a routine check-up.

Schwimmer said the problem will keep getting worse unless professionals approach the health care industry in a “more advanced way.”

“Our health care industry is decades behind other service industries in the United States,” she said. “We should be looking at ways to communicate with doctors via text, via email, Skyping.”

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