Long Wait Times for Healthcare Decrease Specialist Access

August 30, 2022

Long wait times for healthcare decrease specialist access

What is Delaying Specialty Care for Patients?

In order to understand the different reasons that patients struggle to access care, it is essential to look at what contributes to the issue. There are many reasons that patients do not access specialty care. Social determinants of health (SDOH) like the travel distance required to access specialty care in rural areas, cost, disability, and many more. However, the issue that impacts patients nationwide is the long wait times for healthcare that limit appointments with specialists.

Patients are frequently told that specialists aren’t able to see them for several weeks or even months from when the patient receives a referral and attempts to make an appointment. This creates a backlog of patients who often don’t get seen by a specialist because the patient seeks care in another location, like the ED, or decide that the appointment isn’t necessary. So much time between the date the appointment is scheduled and the date of the appointment leads to forgotten and missed appointments and scheduling conflicts.

Average Wait Time by Specialty

  • Nephrology: 23.5 days
  • Urology: 19.2 days
  • Pulmonology: 25.2 days
  • Rheumatology: 44.8 days


  • Gynecology: Over 4 weeks
  • Gastroenterology: 26.1 days
  • Neurologist: 32.3 days
  • Otolaryngology: 13.2 days

Helping to Reduce Long Wait Times for Healthcare?

Our eConsult and referral management solution is helping combat the issue by expediting and prioritizing specialty care. 

eConsults successfully replace a specialist visit more than 70% of the time. On average, AristaMD specialists respond within 4-6 hours from when the eConsult was submitted. This allows patients to have an answer to their health-related issues much quicker than they would if they were to make a specialist. This is often a cost-effective solution for patients who can’t afford additional copays, out-of-pocket costs or time off work. When a primary care provider requests an eConsult, the patient can often avoid the price of a separate specialist visit or the higher co-pay that is common for in-network/out-of-network specialists. The primary care provider saves the patient money, which signals to the patient that the physician truly cares about the patient’s financial and physical well-being.

Long wait times for healthcare decrease specialist access

The average wait time to see a gastroenterologist is 26.1 days. Meanwhile, the average wait time to see a rheumatologist is 44.8 days.

When a patient does need to see a specialist, referral management software delivers an efficient referral. The patient doesn’t need to coordinate the referral or find an in-network specialist. The referral process navigates the primary care support staff to select a specialist based on in-network coverage and a nearby location.  Clinic staff can verify insurance eligibility in real-time, attach patient history and submit the referral electronically to the specialist. The platform can even notify the patient with a text message containing the specialist’s contact information.

Together, eConsults and referral management reduce the time required to coordinate patient care and helps to eliminate long wait times for healthcare.

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