McLaren Northern Michigan: Seeing you sooner

Expanding access: Lowering your wait for an appointment

In 2004, the average wait to see a physician was 21 days.

By 2017, the wait jumped to 24 days.

Last year, the average wait for an appointment with a physician across all specialties climbed to 26 days.

Those wait times, published as a report following a nationwide survey, are only expected to increase as the demand for health care grows in the coming years.

This was the starting point for McLaren Northern Michigan.

“As the gatekeeper of their patients’ overall health, the vital nature of a primary care provider’s role cannot be overstated,” said Dr. Andrew McDonagh, McLaren Northern Michigan Chief Medical Officer. “The focus of our efforts has been dedicated to increasing access to primary care, lowering our patients wait time, and connecting them to the prompt care they need.”

The prevalence and frustration of waiting has reached the point that of the 84 percent of Americans who have a primary care provider, 65 percent of them said they would rather pay for an emergency department visit for care than wait for an appointment.

To address this industrywide trend, while also enhancing their patients’ overall health care experience, McLaren Northern Michigan has enhanced its availability of same-day appointments at several of its primary care clinical offices.

Additions to its staff of primary care providers allow for the prompt care of patients experiencing a range of low-acuity, conditions, such as coughs, fevers, infections, rashes, minor traumas, and sport physicals, among others.

While patients are still welcome and encouraged to make appointments with their doctors for check-ups or the management of chronic conditions, the availability of same-day appointments provide patients the prompt care they require in the comfort and calmness of a primary care office setting.

This also relieves the strain on the primary care physicians’ schedules, increasing their availability, further decreasing their patients’ wait for an appointment.

“Through this initiative to open access to our clinics, we’ve taken direct action and made significant strides in connecting our patients to the care they need,” Dr. McDonagh said.

Find your nearest provider offering the best access and make an appointment with McLaren Northern Michigan for primary care at