Analysis of Wait Times for Online Dermatology Appointments in Most and Least Dermatologist-Dense Cities

May 2020 | Volume 19 | Issue 5 | Editorials | 562 | Copyright © May 2020

Published online April 3, 2020

Laura Xiang BA,a Shari R. Lipner MD PhDb

aCase Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH bDepartment of Dermatology, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, NY

In the United States (US), there have been long wait times for new patient appointments and unequal geographic distribution of dermatologists.1,2 Wait times for online dermatology appointment scheduling have not been previously characterized. ZocDoc is an online appointment scheduling marketplace hosting tens of thousands of independent practices and 60 hospitals.3 Its “patient-centered search” uses datadriven algorithms to better match colloquial search terms with specialties and procedures. Our objective was to determine dermatology appointment wait times on ZocDoc based on dermatologist density.

In April 2019, searches for “dermatologist” were conducted on ZocDoc in chronological order of the most and least dermatologist- dense areas in the US as of 2016.2 ZocDoc automatically filtered each search by “dermatology consultation”. Searches were conducted in chronological order of dermatologist density and overlapping providers between cities were excluded from subsequent searches. Inactive and duplicate providers were also excluded. Provider characteristics were recorded along with next available appointment (days with only one available appointment were excluded), number of available days in May 2019, intervals of appointment times, and in-network insurances. Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated for various data points with significance set to α-level 0.05. Descriptive statistics were generated for means and frequencies. All data analyses were performed using Excel Data Analysis Toolpak.

A total of 552 providers were obtained for 20 searches on ZocDoc (Table 1), with 74% dermatologists. Palo Alto, CA had the largest percentage of non-dermatology providers (53%). Boston, MA (includes Middlesex, County, MA and Portland, ME) had the longest mean wait time (16.68 days). Overall mean wait times for the most and least dermatologist-dense locations were 4.60 and 5.90 days, respectively. Within high dermatologist-dense locations, dermatology had the longest mean wait time (3.63 days) of all specialties (Figure 1). For dermatologists in low dermatologist- dense locations, mean wait time was 6.24 days.