Getting a referral for specialty care

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Your care team may refer you to a specialist to help with your health needs. When this happens, they will put a referral order in our system. We need this before we can make a specialty appointment for you. 

If your provider has already made a referral order and you want to schedule your appointment, please call 781-338-0600.

For the following specialties, please call the number listed below to schedule:

  • Somerville OB/GYN, please call 617-591-4800.
  • Cambridge OB/GYN, please call 617-665-2800.
  • Radiology and Imaging, please call 617-665-1298.
  • Physical Therapy please call 617-591-4600.
  • Behavioral Health, please contact your primary care team directly for next steps.

Think you need to see a specialist?

Call your primary care office or send your team a message in MyCHArt. If you have already spoken with your PCP about your health need and do not have a referral yet, please fill out the form below.

*If you are having a medical emergency, please call 9-1-1.

CHA Patient Referral Form

Frequently Asked Questions

  • I'm having an emergency. What should I do?

    If you feel you are having a health emergency, dont wait. Call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

    You can find 24 hour emergency care at CHA Cambridge Hospital and CHA Everett Hospital. CHA hospitals have some of the shortest ER wait times in Massachusetts.

    When you go to a CHA emergency room, your CHA doctor will be notified about your health needs right away. This "coordinated care" is safer for you and important to us.

    If you are feeling sick but it's not an emergency, please call your CHA Primary Care Center anytime (day or night). Our providers are always available to answer questions on the phone, even when the office is closed. 

    If you feel your medical need is urgent, but not an emergency, visit our CHA Urgent Care Center, Somerville Campus. We also partner with Carewell Urgent Care and Beth Israel Deaconess Chelsea Urgent Care to give you more local options.

  • I need specialty care or testing. What should I do?

    Start by talking to your primary care team. They may have you speak with a nurse to better understand your needs.

    Many health problems can be treated in primary care with a video visit or office visit.

    Your care team may also refer you to a specialty service for your needs. If so, they will place a referral order in our system for you. This will let you make an appointment to be seen. 

  • Can I get a referral after I see a specialist or have a test?

    No. If your insurance requires a referral, please request it BEFORE you see a specialist or have tests. Your primary care team may want to see you first.

    You should also be aware of any costs. Many health plans require a referral ahead of time. Without this, you may have to pay all the visit costs (not just the co-payment or deductible).

  • What if I have a question about a referral?

    Please call your CHA primary care center directly. For non-urgent questions, you can also send a MyChart message.

    If you need to know what services are covered by your health plan, please contact your plan's Member Services team. The phone number is on your insurance card.

  • Where will my CHA doctor send me for specialty care?

    In order to give you the most coordinated care, our policy is to refer patients within CHA for specialty care whenever possible. This gives you coordinated care and allows your caregivers to work together closely.

    CHA has excellent specialists and testing services. This includes board-certified doctors who trained at some of the nation's best hospitals, and services like CT, MRI, Mammography and Cardio-Pulmonary testing.

    For highly complex health needs, we may refer you or your family member to one of our partner hospitals, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) or Massachusetts General Hospital for Children (MGHfC).

  • What if I'm a new patient or haven’t seen my primary care doctor in a while?

    Your CHA doctor may want to see you before writing a referral. This will let them evaluate your health and direct your care.

    This more important if you are a new patient or haven’t been to your CHA primary care center recently.

  • What if I am referred to a specialist when I am in the emergency room or the hospital?

    If possible, please use a CHA hospital for your emergency. We have 24-hour emergency care for all ages at CHA Cambridge Hospital, CHA Somerville Campus and CHA Everett Hospital.

    If you visit an emergency room at a hospital that is not part of CHA, you may see a non-CHA specialist as part of your care. You may also get a follow-up referral to that hospital. When your emergency is over, please call your CHA primary care team right away. They will want to know how you are feeling and can connect you to a specialist in the CHA network.

  • What if I need a referral when I am on vacation or out of town?

    We hope you never need specialty care when you are away. But if you do, please check with your health plan. Your insurance may have different rules about out-of-area medical services.

  • What if I want to use a specialist or service outside CHA?

    Please talk to your CHA primary care team first. Health care works best when you have ONE TEAM working for you.

    There are many doctors in your health plan network who are outside the CHA referral network. Many outside doctors do not share information easily and we cannot ensure the quality of their services.

  • Does my health plan (insurance) have rules about referrals?

    Most do. These vary by the company and type of coverage. For example, in some plans you can save money by seeing certain doctors (in network).

    Plans like HMOs require that your primary care doctor choose a specialist for you. Plans with preferred provider (PPO) or point of service (POS) options may make you pay more to see a specialist that your doctor did not select. Other plans may make you pay the entire bill (not just a co-pay or deductible) if you see a doctor outside their network. If you have questions, please call your health plan’s Member Services.

  • If my request for a referral is denied, what can I do?

    Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) is part of a provider organization that is certified as a "risk-bearing provider organization" (RBPO) by the Massachusetts Division of Insurance. An RBPO is a group of health care providers that work together to coordinate your care and enter into financial agreements with insurance companies to do so. CHA is participating in an RBPO that is called the CHA Accountable Care Organization (ACO).

    Per regulatory guidelines and as part of CHA's commitment to our patients, we have established a process for you or your authorized representative (such as a spouse, family member, friend, attorney or legal guardian) to make a complaint about issues like referrals, timely access to treatment or services or other concerns about limitations of care.

    To ask about this appeals process or to file a complaint, please contact our Patient Relations Department.

    You can contact our Patient Relations Department in the following ways:
    To file a complaint by phone: 617-665-1398

    To file a complaint in writing:

    Cambridge Health Alliance
    Patient Relations Department
    1493 Cambridge Street
    Cambridge, MA 02139
    Fax: 617-591-4490

    To file a complaint online: Click on "Contact CHA" in the navigation menu in the upper right and fill out our contact form. Or send an email to

    We will give you a written answer to your pre-service and post-service complaint/appeals in fourteen (14) business days. If your complaint involves urgent medical needs, we will give you a written answer in three (3) days.

    For more information or questions, call 617-665-1398.

    For more information on your right to make a complaint, contact the Massachusetts Office of Patient Protection at 800-436-7757.

  • How do I renew a prescription at CHA?

    If you need to renew a prescription, please contact your primary care center by phone or MyCHArt. Your doctor may want to see you first, based on your medical history and symptoms.

  • Where do I fax my referral?

    Please fax your referral to 978-367-9912

  • How do I contact a specialty department?

    To contact one of our specialty departments, please click here for our directory.

Your Choices for Specialty Care

Stay at CHA. You will find great doctors and testing for most health needs right here. You will also receive coordinated care, which has been shown to lead to better health outcomes. And if you are a MyCHArt user, you can see your test results and ask questions through our secure system.

Using a CHA Specialty Partner. If the services you need are not available at CHA, we will find care for you within the CHA family. Our specialty partners work closely with your doctor and care team to understand your health and meet your needs.

Doctors and Services Outside the CHA Network. Not every specialist in your health plan network is connected with CHA, and most don’t share information easily with us. So when you go outside CHA, it is hard for us to ensure the quality of your care or make sure you get the support you need. It is also difficult for us to answer your questions about visits outside of CHA.

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