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Will Medicare’s Annual Wellness Visit enhance physical & cognitive health? Probably — if people go

The annual well­ness visit: An oppor­tu­nity to improve rev­enue and patient care (PhysBizTech):

Medicare recently intro­duced the Annual Well­ness Visit (AWV) to keep Medicare ben­e­fi­cia­ries healthy, or help Medicare ben­e­fi­cia­ries become health­ier, by pro­mot­ing pos­i­tive health habits and a healthy lifestyle. Unlike much of med­ical care, which is pri­mar­ily directed at treat­ing acute and chronic ill­nesses, the AWV aims to pre­vent the onset of dis­ease and dis­abil­ity or to slow the pro­gres­sion and exac­er­ba­tion of exist­ing ill­nesses… less than six per­cent of Medicare ben­e­fi­cia­ries received an AWV in 2011 (Editor’s bold). Many ben­e­fi­cia­ries do not know to ask for the AWV, and providers fre­quently do not pro­mote it. The real­ity is, how­ever, that AWVs can be effi­ciently deliv­ered by non-physician prac­ti­tion­ers (NPPs) in a frac­tion of the time required for a tra­di­tional “phys­i­cal” through the use of inno­v­a­tive soft­ware. While most physi­cians believe they offer well­ness ser­vices, the real­ity is that most do not offer the AWV. A true Medicare AWV involves not only a review of med­ical his­tory and med­ica­tions, but also a con­ver­sa­tion about the patient’s func­tional abil­ity and lifestyle issues that impact health. A list of risk fac­tors, con­di­tions and treat­ment options must be estab­lished. Cog­ni­tive func­tion must be assessed, and a 5–10 year pre­ven­tive screen­ing sched­ule created.”

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