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September 14, 2017 | Why Your Practice Should Provide Annual Wellness Visits

Patients are increasingly educating themselves on the various resources and services offered by physicians, clinics, and hospitals. As information is so readily available online, a quick search can change a patient’s perspective on their health care. With so many available options, patients want to make sure they can get the quality care that best suits their needs. They also want engagement features that let them know their doctor sees them as a person, not just another name on a list. This is why Annual Wellness Visits were initiated by CMS to help promote this engagement.

But Annual Wellness Visits have had a hard time gaining traction due to the lack of information on both physician and patient ends. This detailed, question-based assessment of a patient’s current health and risk factors allows physicians and their patients to understand and develop helpful preventive tools and resources for at-risk areas.

When understanding the benefits of these services, many physicians are inclined to start offering such visits. But, they often require extensive research and resources to follow through. However, with a clear reimbursement plan from Medicare, doctors are given a helping hand. Plus, the advantages of Annual Wellness Visits are going beyond the care involved.

How Well Do You Know Your Patient’s History?

Do you have time, as a physician, to really delve into your patient’s family history of illnesses or others? Do they have a genetic predisposition for something that could be managed or cured if caught at an early stage?

Typically, patients have an average of 15 minutes to spend with their doctors, needing to run through the state of their health at that precise moment. Unfortunately, without a detailed list, they often remember things they wanted to mention later that day or maybe even a week later. Should they reschedule another appointment at a later date? How easy is it to call their doctor and share the missing information?

Some patients require more follow-ups or other care due to family illnesses. This results in the need for certain services or more specifically, preventive medicine. This is why many patients and doctors are starting to look into and talk about Annual Wellness Visits.

What Are Annual Wellness Visits?

In an effort to move towards preventive medicine rather than focusing on costly interventions, CMS put forth Annual Wellness Visits. These are different from a patient’s annual checkup as they do not include a physical exam.

An Annual Wellness Visit is essentially a detailed, question-based assessment of a patient’s current health and risk factors and is completely free for patients. Once a year, patients meet with a healthcare professional to identify at-risk areas and are then followed by counseling to help them reduce their health risk factors.

They are a great opportunity for patients to really delve into their current symptoms and lifestyle to have a better idea and understanding of what to change or watch out for. It really empowers them and gives their doctor a better notion of what is going on with their health.

Going beyond the preventive measures, there are also other great benefits for Annual Wellness Visits. As AAFP’s review of Medicare’s AWV states:

“The AWV provides an opportunity for physicians to improve the quality of care, assist in patient engagement, and optimize payment opportunities. […] Implementing the service allows physicians to invest in patient-centered, team-based care while promoting quality and cost-effective care.”

What Really Makes Annual Wellness Visits So Appealing?

“The interest in Annual Wellness Visits is partly due to the elements covered within these visits. Moving past treatment and delving into preventive measures, patients have a better understanding of their health. They are also better equipped to deal with anything that may arise during these yearly meetings.”
 Wellbox Whitepaper: Understanding the Benefits of Annual Wellness Visits

Annual Wellness Visits have many benefits including that they:

Some of the elements covered in these visits are:

  • Review of medical and family history and personalized health advice
  • Develop or update a list of current providers and prescriptions
  • Health Risk Assessment and Cognitive Health Assessment
  • Height, weight, blood pressure, and BMI calculation
  • Personalized health advice

Physician Advantages

Preventive care, although a great notion for both physicians and patients, can be hard to carry out. Many patients do not completely understand their health or their current treatment plan. This is why Annual Wellness Visits present an unparalleled opportunity for patients to raise any concerns they may have about their care.

These visits play a great part in health care that focuses on prevention rather than intervention. They not only address current health and risk factors but assess the current treatment plan of their patients without focusing on trying to diagnose new issues.

Annual Wellness Visits are actually interesting to physicians as they quite simply:

  • Provide an extra service to their patients
  • Allow for closer ties to patients and their health
  • Meet many MIPS requirements along the way

With its clear benefits, the question of whether or not to provide these services no longer stems from how valuable these visits are or aren’t. Instead, it’s about if the physician has the allotted resources to perform them without impeding on his or her current workflow.

To further understand the required resources, factors to consider, and advantages of Annual Wellness Visits, including the many for your patients, download our whitepaper today.