Annual Wellness Visit
Medicare (CMS) has made higher quality healthcare possible with the advent of the “Annual Wellness Visit”. It is now possible to provide these visits to your Medicare patients every year under the new CMS guidelines.
This Annual Wellness Visit should not be mistaken for the annual physical that Medicare offers to its participants. The Annual Wellness Visit takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour to complete. The Annual Wellness Visit is not a physical and in fact is not performed by the physician. A member of the practice other than the physician who is trained is supposed to perform the visit. The visit will consist of questions about diet and exercise, medications (from all physicians) allergies, vaccines, vitals (height, weight, blood pressure and waist size), and medical history. In addition the health care professional will test the patients functional capacity , cognitive functions and screen for depression.
The statutory requirements are that the visit identifies “risk” factors, prepares a five (5) year plan to address these factors and must provide the patient with personal health advice. The first Annual Wellness Visit will be used as a base line for potential changes in the patients risk factors. The risk factors should be graded from minimal to severe, so the doctor and the patient can develop a game plan based on the severity of the issue. It will also be used to identify new risk factors going forward.
After the visit and the “risk” factors are identified the physician will have a face to face meeting with the patient to discuss the risk factors and explain the five (5) year plan to deal with them.
The current Electronic Record Systems (EHR) do not provide the data collection and analysis required to maximize the benefits of the Annual Wellness Visit. To review and to manipulate this data by hand would be time consuming for the practice and would not maximize its benefits. There are programs available that will give the physician practice and the patient the maximum benefits.