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When a patient is made to wait a long time to receive care from a physician or other health care professional, the implicit message is clear: the patient’s time is less important than the clinician’s. Although patients are understanding of waits due to professional emergencies (eg, when an earlier scheduled patient is very sick) or personal emergencies (eg, the physician is out ill), if a patient must wait a long time every time he or she sees the doctor, there is a problem in the system. This Research Letter by Ray et al1 captures something all physicians unfortunately and undoubtedly see in a wide variety of clinic settings: patients waiting. Still, this is an issue rarely addressed among the published studies on quality and access to care. The authors used 2 unique data sources, the American Time Use Survey and the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, to demonstrate that, on average, Americans spend 80 minutes at a clinic to receive care, during which approximately only 20 minutes are spent face-to-face with the physician.1
Ross JS, Katz MH. No Time to Wait. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(12):1986. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.5393