Mass. Medical Society Releases Annual Access to Care Study
Wednesday, August 08, 2012
The 2012 study consists of two separate surveys. The first is a survey of physician offices that examined wait times for new patient appointments, percentages of physician offices accepting new patients, and physician acceptance of the government programs of Medicare and Medicaid. The second was a public opinion survey of Massachusetts residents looking at such issues as patient satisfaction with health care, difficulty in obtaining care, and use of online information.
Richard Aghababian, M.D., president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, said “Our latest research show an improving picture of access to and satisfaction with health care in the Commonwealth. While we continue to have shortages of physicians and average wait times for new patients for primary care are still longer than we’d like them to be, we are seeing more people getting care. And that’s positive.”
MMS’s eighth annual physician office survey found that access to primary care physicians has improved in 2012, but only slightly from 2011, as nearly half of primary care practices are still closed to new patients.
Worcester County Access to Care
In Worcester County, only 50 percent of internal medicine physicians are accepting new patients, and the wait time for an appointment is 37 days. Only 40 percent of family medicine physicians are accepting new patients; the wait time is 52 days. 34 percent of pediatricians are accepting new patients, and those patients wait an average of 34 days to be seen.
Statewide shorter wait times were reported for the specialty physicians, and more specialists reported accepting new patients.
In Worcester County, a new patient can be seen in 29 days at the cardiologist; 91 percent are accepting new patients. All gastroenterologists and OB/GYNs surveyed reported that they were accepting new patients, with a wait time of 43 days. Orthopedic surgeons reported a wait time of only 18 days, and 90 percent indicated that they were accepting new patients.
Public Opinion Survey: Patient Experience, Satisfaction
The Society’s public opinion survey was conducted on a random basis statewide. Among the findings:
- 87 percent of residents reported being satisfied with their health care
- 78 percent report it was not difficult to obtain needed care
- 90 percent reported seeing their primary care physician within the last year
Affordability is the biggest health care issue: 50% of adults reported that it is the single most important health care issue facing the state.
The 2012 Patient Access to Care Study, with results from the two surveys, is available online at www.massmed.org/patientaccess
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