Family Doctors

Wait Time Benchmarks for Access to Family Doctors

Benchmark: Same-day access
Advanced Access model: The majority of appointment slots are open for patients who call that day for routine, urgent, or preventive visits.


  • The goal of every practice should be to implement a system that assures appropriate timely access to appointments for all patients
  • Must consider different approaches depending on patient needs. No one size will fit all, but the goal is to ensure timely access to patients and that they can ideally be seen when they want to be seen. Further to this point, must ensure quality of care. Outcomes, utilization, and satisfaction improve when patients are seen in a timely fashion.
  • Family practices should try to adopt same-day/advanced access or combined same-day and carve-out scheduling strategies to ensure timely appointments with the patient’s personal family physician or other appropriate health professional team members.
  • Timely access through Advanced Access or Carve-Out models must have system supports in place; those supports are remunerative, adequate resources (financial and human), and any necessary practice supports.
  • Access is connected to continuity. If a family physician’s panel is so large that patients cannot see their own FP, then access to urgent care, another physicians, and other team members may not be “appropriate and timely”. Access must be tied to a patient’s own family physician and team, and not just to same-day access alone.
  • Access need not only involve face-to-face visits. Can also connect with family physicians and other health care providers through email, phone calls, and group visits, to name a few.


Related Items

The Patient’s Medical Home

Best Advice: Timely Access to Appointments in Family Practice

College of Family Physicians of Canada website