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The first stop for many patients in search of a physician is their health plan’s provider directory. If a new study published in Health Affairs is any indication, though, they might be better off consulting Google—or even the yellow pages—to find their closes urgent care center for prompt attention. The problem is that directories are often inaccurate, with roughly 30% of callers discovering the physician has a specialty other than the one listed in the directory—and about the same low percentage able to make an appointment with a physician at all. The study found that people with “urgent” health problems such as high fevers faced wait times of 8 to 12 days to get an appointment—expressed another way, that’s 8 to 12 days longer than they’d have to wait to see an urgent care physician. The authors expressed concern that such a dynamic encourages too many patients to clog up the emergency room with nonemergent complaints.

Inaccurate Provider Lists a Major Barrier to Care, Study Finds