Cambridge Health Alliance is taking steps to improve its finances. (Photo: Vlad Tuchkov)

Cambridge Health Alliance is taking steps to improve its finances. (Photo: Vlad Tuchkov)

By the end of this year, Cambridge Health Alliance will offer same-day and next-day appointments to most people seeking a surgeon, a spokesman says. The Alliance has been trying to increase the number of patients who use its services as it seeks to achieve financial stability.

The new “open access scheduling” program is already in effect for general surgery appointments and will expand to appointments with urology, podiatry and ear, nose and throat surgeons by the end of the year, spokesman David Cecere said last week.

“Offering same- or next-day specialty appointments removes a significant barrier to care for our patients and allows us to do our very best to make sure they are seen when they want to be seen,” Cecere said. The system’s Cambridge Breast Center has provided quick appointments “for many years,” he said.

The Alliance includes Cambridge and Somerville Hospitals, Whidden Memorial Hospital in Everett and 12 primary care offices in Cambridge, Somerville, Revere, Malden and Everett. The system is the state’s second-largest “safety net hospital” serving poor patients and those without insurance and has lost money on health care operations for years.

In the past three years it has focused on beefing up the number of visits and hospital stays, introducing productivity goals for physicians, new systems for scheduling appointments and expanded hours. So far, patient volume has not met expectations, though it has increased in some areas.

Asked how the Alliance will implement same- and next-day appointments with surgeons, Cecere said specifics will vary because each surgical division differs in how long it takes to see a specialist.

There will be changes in “workflows, scheduling processes and philosophy,” but the Alliance won’t change the number of employees or their workloads, he said.


This post was updated Oct. 27, 2015, to clarify and correct the headline.