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David_morales Posted by: David Morales, Commissioner, Division of Health Care Finance and Policy

Innovations don't need to be complicated. 

For example, the Boston Globe today features the story of Dr. Dennis M. Dimitri, a family physician affiliated with UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, who promotes open access, i.e. same-day scheduling of patient appointments. According to the article, this change has helped Dr. Dimitri address some of the problems associated with an over-burdened practice and has helped alleviate his patients' experiences with delayed bookings and long wait-times. 

The article further states, "Dimitri's patients start calling in at 9 a.m. and are assigned 15-minute time slots on a first-call, first-serve basis. Those who want a traditional scheduled appointment can try for the two to three hours a day he reserves for advanced bookings … A few extra slots are left open for walk-ins and emergencies." Importantly, the article goes on to mention that Dr. Dimitri's office does not double-book and has very few no-show patients. 

I share this article with you for two reasons. First, we should support physicians and providers in developing and adopting innovative and efficient approaches to delivering high quality, patient-centered care. Second, strategies like open-access scheduling are one of many opportunities that we will discuss Monday during the launch of the Health Care Finance and Policy (HCFP) Symposium, a new series of informational events aimed at better engaging consumers and policy makers on timely issues in health care, like integration and costs. 

The kick-off event – Monday, July 19th from 10 a.m. to noon – will begin with a presentation of key findings from three new DHCFP reports (potentially preventable hospitalizations, preventable/avoidable emergency department use, and primary care in Massachusetts). Next, a panel will react to these findings, and discuss the challenges and opportunities for improving the delivery of health care services in Massachusetts. The panel will be moderated by my dear friend and colleague, John Auerbach, Commissioner of the Department of Public Health. 

Panelists include: 

  • Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, Executive Director, Health Care for All
  • Normand Deschene, CEO, Lowell General Hospital
  • Lori Berry, CEO, Lynn Community Health Center, Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers
  • Carla Bettano, Vice President of Business Development, Neighborhood Health Plan
  • Dr. Michael Wagner, Chief, Internal Medicine and Adult Primary Care, Tufts Medical Center
  • Jon Hurst, President, Retailers Association of Massachusetts

Though registration for this event is full, I welcome you to attend a future HCFP Symposium. We look forward to addressing other important health care policy issues, such as transparency and wellness.

To receive notifications about upcoming events, please send an email to with the word "Subscribe" in the Subject Line. And, as always, you can look for updates here on the Commonwealth Conversations: Mass Health Care Blog, on our website, or follow us on Twitter at

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