The dermatologist will see you … today
Short of an emergency or a primary care referral, people bothered by a skin-related concern may have difficulty finding quick access to a dermatologist.
According to Merritt Hawkins’ 2014 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times and Medicaid and Medicare Acceptance Rates (see page 8 of report used with permission) the average cumulative wait time to see a dermatologist in 15 U.S. markets was 28.8 days, up from 22.1 days in 2009. At 56 days, Minneapolis/St. Paul posted the second highest wait time, up from 16 days in 2009. Similarly, a 2013 Canadian Dermatology Association publication quotes a 2012 American Academy of Dermatology practice profile survey noting that the average wait time for a new patient to see a dermatologist in the U.S. was 30 days.
Recently, however, several FPA Network dermatology practices have begun to promote same or next day appointments with a dermatologist for patients who request it. Others are piloting web-based visits.
Several network dermatology practices responded to an FPA query for this story to describe how they are adapting appointment access to respond to market forces.
Academic Dermatology (a dermatologist, a nurse practitioner, and a physician assistant see patients in Edina; academicderm.com.) According to Whitney Tope, MD, “Because many patients want to be seen now, we introduced online dermatology visits in July." New or existing patients can describe their symptoms and send photos to Tope for a $59 online visit anytime, including on weekends. If the patient needs to be seen in the office, an office visit is expedited. All requests go directly to the doctor, he says. See a sidebar for more information.
Associated Skin Care Specialists (Eighteen dermatologists see patients in Eden Prairie, Maple Grove, Coon Rapids and two sites in Fridley; associatedskincare.com.) “Patients call and request a same day appointment,” says Administrator Janet White. “They really like the convenience. In September, we’ll also begin offering e-visits. Patients will click on the e-visit icon on our home page, pick a physician, and will receive directions and information on how to initiate an e-visit.”
Clarus Dermatology (Two dermatologists see patients in St. Anthony, Plymouth, Golden Valley and Minnetonka; clarusdermatology.com.) According to dermatologist Neil Shah, MD. “We’ve always held same-day appointments for urgent consults requested by referring providers. For patients without a primary care physician, we frequently can integrate urgent appointments into our schedule if the patient is flexible on time and location.”
Dermatology Consultants (Twenty dermatologists see patients in Eagan, St. Paul, Woodbury and Vadnais Heights, dermatologyconsultants.com.) “As demand for our services increased, we recently hired four board certified dermatologists,” says CEO Bill Kenney. “To provide quicker access to dermatologists, we simplified our schedules, removed many restrictions and provided same day and next day access. Patients can pick the doctor they usually see, or if all same day slots are filled, another doctor can see them. Our patients love the change.”
Lakes Dermatology (Three dermatologists see patients in Burnsville and Minnetonka, lakesderm.com.) “Patients can contact us by phone or email and request a specific physician or choose the next available physician. They appreciate that we offer some same day and same week appointments,” says Rehana Ahmed, MD, PhD. “Because we all are board-certified dermatologists, patients receive the highest level of compassionate dermatological care.”
My Dermatologist (Two dermatologists and one physician assistant see patients in Inver Grove Heights, mydermtc.com.) “We promote same day appointments for our PA, Joy Stutrud, via Facebook and email blasts,” says COO Linda Bohlig. Our dermatologist oversees visits with our PA. Front desk staff members are trained to bring urgent calls from patients or referring doctors to the dermatologists, who are able to get the patient in quickly if needed.
For a full list of FPA Network dermatologist practices, visit this link at FPANetwork.org.