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General Information About the APF

What is the APF?

The Ambulatory Practice of the Future (APF) is an internal medicine, primary care practice created for Massachusetts General Hospital employees and their spouses or partners who receive health insurance through a Mass General-sponsored medical plan.

Where did the idea for the APF come from?

For many years, Mass General leaders have advocated for programs that encourage employees stay healthy and productive. There are several examples of this – from having excellent yet low cost health insurance plans to choose from, to special programs like BeFit. A few years ago Mass General leaders joined together to find a way to improve the experience of care for employees at the most basic and important level, that of primary care.

The Ambulatory Practice of the Future grew from this foundation and was designed as a new concept in primary care – a place where employees could receive care from their team near their place of employment in a medical practice built just for them. The practice was designed not only as a great place for patients to get their care, but also as a great place for clinicians and care team members to work. These concepts are the foundation for the care environment that has become the Ambulatory Practice of the Future (APF).

What kind of medical practice is the APF?

The APF is a primary care internal medicine practice that provides care for adults over the age of 18 years. Providers at the APF include board-certified internal medicine physicians and family nurse practitioners. The APF uses a "care team" model which adds additional skilled support and includes health and wellness coaches, registered nurses, medical secretaries, patient care coordinators, and a greeter. Most importantly, YOU are a vital member of this team! Your care team is available to help with all of your general healthcare needs, including the following:

  • Giving you an annual physical exam
  • Caring for you when you are sick or in need of urgent care to help you stay out of the emergency room and medical walk-in when appropriate
  • Helping you take care of any ongoing and challenging chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Supporting your personal goals to keep you healthy and feeling well
  • Refilling your medications and helping you better understand the medicines you may be taking
  • Giving you the vaccinations you need (flu shots, etc.)
  • Helping you get the tests you need
  • Being there for you after hours, on weekends, or if you are in the hospital
  • Finding the right specialists you may need

These of course are just a few of the things your APF care team will do to make sure you stay as healthy as possible.

The care services above look familiar…so what is different about the APF?

Because the APF is different in many ways, this question is not that easy to answer. Here are just a few examples of what is different in the APF:

    • During your first visit to the practice, members of your care team will spend an hour with you to truly get to know you as a person, understand what is important to you and what you seek in a relationship with your medical team. You will meet several members of your care team and will learn who they are, what role they play and how they can help you.
    • We think caring for you can be more than a once-a-year physical or helping when you feel sick. Caring to us means finding out what you need to feel well and then helping you to achieve and maintain that level of wellness. To do this, you will work with your care team to create a Health and Life Balance Plan that is customized for you. This plan will include your personal health and wellness goals and targets that you set together with your team. It will also include a list of the important things you need to do to reach your health goals. The Health and Life Balance Plan will help us work together on your goals and show us the progress you are making toward feeling and staying healthier.
    • You can use a computer at home or work, and your own personal “APF website” called Partners Patient Gateway to see your APF medical record information: your doctor's and care team’s notes about your care, laboratory and test results, your medicine list, appointments with your care team, scheduled tests, and of course, your Health and Life Balance Plan. You can also use your APF website to privately communicate with your care team, schedule appointments and make requests for an insurance referral or a prescription refill.
    • You can "visit" with your provider without actually coming to the practice. APF "virtual visits" can be scheduled to make it easier for you to talk to your doctor or another member of your care team. Currently, virtual visits are conducted by phone but we hope to also include video conferencing visits in the future. Through the use of virtual visits, you can follow up with a member of your health care team regarding medications, test results, symptoms, your wellness goals and other pertinent information and limit the hassles of an in-person meeting. A member of your care team will help you to decide when this type of visit is appropriate.
  • The APF patient space was built to give our patients a sense of comfort and warmth during their visits. Enter and take a rest in our lounge or cafe while enjoying views of Boston. If you didn’t get a chance to do so before coming in, you can use one of our computers to create a "don’t forget to talk about" list for your visit, look at your medical record or add some information to your Health and Life Balance Plan. Help yourself to water, juice, coffee or tea, or a light snack (if you do not need to fast for any tests).
  • Similarly, the APF patient care rooms were built to put patients at ease and to give them a comfortable experience with their care teams. We used warm colors, comfortable furniture and a little extra space to ensure this experience. Enjoy a conversation with your provider or other care team member while sitting together at a table. Together, use the computer in the room to help you talk about and better understand your health, review your medical record or to look up specific medical help information.
  • You have access to a personal Health and Wellness Coach who will help you reach your health and wellness goals. Like any good coach, your Health and Wellness Coach will help you structure your plan to reaching your goals, provide accountability and provide encouragement along the way.
  • The APF Care Alliance, comprised of patients and APF team members, works together to preserve the patient perspective in everything that we do to make APF a better place to receive care. In particular, our goal is to understand, through our patients' eyes, what it's like to be a patient in the practice. The APF team believes that a partnership between patients and their team is the ideal way to achieve the best patient experience possible and we will be responsive to your suggestions.

Is the APF a teaching practice?

Mass General prides itself on its mission not only to deliver exceptional care but also to train future medical leaders through education, innovation, and research. Like every other major primary care clinic at Mass General, the APF is fully committed to this mission and is excited to partner with resident physicians, medical students, and nursing students as part of their educational and longitudinal training experience. Resident physicians are medical school graduates (holding MD degrees) who complete a robust three-year residency program in the field of internal medicine. These doctors, who will work under close supervision of our staff physicians, will be an important part of your care team and many patients may choose to identify a resident physician as their primary care provider. Giving providers-in-training an opportunity to participate in the development, innovation and implementation of a unique care model such as the APF is critical to our larger mission of revitalizing the practice of primary care.

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Patient Eligibility

How to become a patient at the APF:

The APF has four to six staff physicians, two to six resident physicians and three nurse practitioners available to care for our patients. Like any new practice, the APF is adding new patients gradually, over time. Because of this, we are currently booking new appointments out a number of months. However, we can and will accommodate more urgent visits sooner on an as needed basis. Please call the practice at 617-724-1100 to sign up if you are eligible.

Who can register to be part of the APF?

You can register for the APF if you are 18 years of age or older, are an employee or spouse/domestic partner of an Mass General employee, and receive your medical insurance through the Mass General employee benefits plan. The insurance plans included are Partners Plus, Partners Value, Master Health Plus, Harvard Pilgrim Health Plan, Tufts Health Plan and Master Medical Plan.

A spouse or domestic partner can register if they are listed as the dependent of a Mass General employee and also receive their medical insurance through one of the Mass General-offered plans listed above. At this time you cannot register adult dependent children that may have Mass General medical insurance.

How do I register for the APF?

There are a number of ways to register as a new patient at the APF:

  • Fill out our online form
  • Email us at
  • Call the office directly at 617-724-1100 – please have your insurance card, employee ID number and Mass General patient registration number available at the time of your call

If I register for the APF, will I automatically become a patient in the practice?

If you register and if you are eligible, you will be automatically enrolled as a new patient of the practice. For initial physical exams, we are booking out a number of months from the time of your initial inquiry. If you feel you must be seen sooner, please alert our staff and we will do our best to accommodate your needs.

Once I become a patient at the APF, will my medical insurance plan change in any way? Will my co-pay or premium costs change?

If you are chosen to be a patient in the APF you will not need to change your insurance plan in any way. Your visit co-pays and the amount you pay for your insurance (deducted from your paycheck) will not change. However, you will need to let your medical insurance company and Mass General Registration know that you have a new primary care doctor. Detailed instructions on how to do so will be sent to you prior to your first appointment.

Can I register to be a patient in the APF if I currently see another Mass General primary care physician?

Yes, you can register to join the APF even if you currently have an Mass General primary care doctor. If you choose to transfer your primary care to a provider at the APF, you will also be choosing to leave your current primary care doctor. We strongly encourage you to consider the benefits of maintaining the relationship you have with your current Mass General doctor as you make a decision on whether or not to register for the APF.

Can I stay with the APF if I retire and no longer receive health insurance from Mass General?

If you retire and would like to remain a patient in the APF, you and your partner or spouse will have the opportunity to do so.

What happens if I join the APF practice and then change my insurance coverage to a non-Mass General plan?

The above situation might happen if you decide to no longer obtain your health insurance from Mass General, or if you leave Mass General and can no longer have Mass General-sponsored medical insurance. To be a patient in the APF you must get your medical insurance through one of the Mass General medical plans. If you or your dependent spouse/partner no longer use a medical plan that is from Mass General, you will unfortunately need to switch to another doctor and practice. While you are in the process of transferring your care to a new practice, we will continue to care for you.

What if I join the practice and then decide I don’t like it as much as my old practice?

We believe the APF provides a very special care environment for our patients and we are very confident that our patients will want to stay with us. If, however, you decide that the practice is not right for you, we will do our best to assist you in the transfer of your care to another primary care practice. We, of course, cannot guarantee that your old primary care doctor will take you back, or that a new doctor will easily be found. While you are in the process of transferring your care to a new practice, we will continue to care for you.

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Getting Started with APF

What will my first appointment be like?

During your first visit to the practice, members of your care team will spend an hour with you to truly get to know you as a person, understand what is important to you and what you seek in a relationship with your medical team. You will meet several members of your care team and will learn who they are, what role they play and how they can help you.

We will also spend time helping you create your personalized Health and Life Balance Plan, show you how to create some initial wellness goals and help you document plans for reaching them.

As in any new patient visit, your provider will give you a full physical exam. As part of your visit, we will review any pre-visit laboratory tests that we may have asked you to complete or schedule any additional tests that are needed to help us fully understand your health and wellness needs. At the end of the visit your provider will discuss the next steps in your care plan. This could include a follow-up visit with your provider or another member of your care team. A team member will help you after the visit to make sure you get whatever care you and your care team agree upon.

Who are the people on my care team and how will they help me?

Each APF patient will work with a specific care team, which includes a doctor, nurse practitioner, registered nurse, health coach and medical assistant. Care teams are also supported by patient care coordinators and greeters who are considered part of each patient’s care team. When you come to the practice we will make every effort to make sure you are seen by someone on your care team. When you are feeling ill and want to see your provider, we will make every effort to accommodate your request. If your provider is not available at the time you request, you can see another APF doctor or the nurse practitioner on your care team. Whomever you see, the information from your visit will be made available to everyone on your care team. We feel it is extremely important that each care team member knows how you are doing. The true success of our care model will be in sharing the responsibility of the care of our patients as a team rather than a single provider.

Meet our staff

Will my APF care team take care of me if I’m in the Mass General Emergency Department, or if I get admitted to Mass General? What if I'm in an Emergency Department or hospital somewhere other than Mass General?

The APF strongly encourages patients to call the practice before seeking care in the Emergency Department or Medical Walk-In Unit to help determine the most appropriate action needed. Often we can take care of your urgent care needs in the practice and help you avoid lengthy waits and being cared for by people who don’t know you as well as your APF primary care team.

However, if you are in the Mass General Emergency Department or admitted to Mass General, the APF will make sure that your care team is quickly made aware of this situation. Your doctor or nurse practitioner will call the emergency room doctor or the doctor that has admitted you to the hospital to understand what is happening and to be sure everything is going as it should. When you are admitted to Mass General, your doctor will visit you in the hospital, work with other doctors that may be treating you and follow your care until you are discharged. Your APF care team will stay closely connected to doctors at other hospitals if you need to receive care someplace other than Mass General.

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Being an APF Patient

Will my role as a patient be different at the APF?

Yes, we hope that each patient, in addition to having a different experience of medical care, will notice a difference in their role as a patient at the APF. We encourage each patient to become an active member of their own care team - feeling empowered to reach out with their concerns, guiding the encounter around their health and wellness goals, and give us feedback about their care and the practice as a whole. We also welcome patient feedback and involvement through the APF Care Alliance, a partnership between patients and APF team members with a goal of creating the best patient experience possible.

Is there anything I need to do before my first visit?

Yes. At the APF, we believe we can best care for our new patients by starting to get to know them and their health history before the first visit begins. Our patient care coordinators will send you a new patient packet prior to your first visit and we ask that you review its contents carefully. It is very important to us that patients complete and return their pre-visit paperwork so that it may be entered into your health record before your appointment. We also ask that you request that any medical records from an outside facility be sent to our office. Our fax number is 617-643-8898. Finally, please look for an email from our online patient portal, Partners Patient Gateway, and enter the code found in your new patient packet in order to complete your enrollment.

What is Partners Patient Gateway?

Partners Patient Gateway is the online portal used by the APF care team and available to you that allows you to access your medical information and communicate with the APF. Using Patient Gateway, you can email your provider, schedule an appointment, request a medication refill and access your medical record. It is important that patients understand and familiarize themselves with this tool.

Also, we ask patients to be aware of how this portal is used. Please note the following:

  • Patient Gateway is only used during office hours. If you send a message on evenings or over the weekend, it will not be accessed by your care team until the next business day (Monday-Friday, 8:30 am-5:00 pm)
  • Patient Gateway should not be used for emergencies. Due to the fact that messages can only be reviewed during office hours and are sometimes not able to be immediately responded to, we ask all patients with an urgent concern to call the office, and those with emergencies to dial 911
  • Office staff will review all Patient Gateway messages initially, and then direct messages as necessary to the appropriate member of your care team. Messages are not sent directly to your provider or the requested recipient
  • All reminders for appointments at the APF will be sent out via Patient Gateway to your email account. We do not utilize telephone reminders. If you do not have a Patient Gateway account, you will not receive an appointment reminder

What should I do if I have an urgent medical problem?

Many trips to the Emergency Department or Medical Walk-In Unit are for non-emergent medical issues that your care team at the APF can manage. Why pay a $100 ER co-pay and wait hours when you can see your own team in less time for a much smaller co-pay? Urgent care at the APF is a phone call away. We can help you determine the most appropriate and efficient way to get the care you need and will do our best to see all patients with urgent issues on the same day of your call.

Here are a few other advantages to checking in with us first:

    • You can be seen by a member of your care team without having to wait for hours in an unfamiliar, crowded and impersonal environment
    • You can wait from the comfort of your home or office if your appointment with us is scheduled later in the day
    • We offer wound care (including suturing and burn care), administer therapies, such as intravenous fluids or antibiotics, and can perform minor procedures such as joint aspiration and injection
    • We can rapidly coordinate further testing, such as blood work and x-rays, and follow up with specialists as needed

So if you are in need of urgent care, call "home" to APF. You can always reach us, either at the office during regular clinic hours, at 617-724-1100 or by paging the doctor after-hours. As always, if you experience a medical emergency or a life-threatening situation, call 911 immediately.

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