Doctor versus provider, clinical study versus clinical trial, high risk versus high acuity, annual well visit versus annual health exam— there are countless healthcare terms that are easily confused, often used interchangeably, and yet they are not the same. Annual Well Visits are among those term that have a very clear definition and serve an important purpose for its beneficiaries. Unfortunately, they’re not well known, but through community partnerships and the work of our Care Coordinators, we’re changing that.

Annual Well Visits (AWV) were added to Medicare in 2011 through the passage of the Affordable Care Act and provide annual physicals with the purpose of forming provider-patient relationships, assessing individuals’ health conditions through Health Risk Assessment (HRAs), and decreasing the overall cost of healthcare through prevention.  

Monument Health— in collaboration with our partner physicians—offers Annual Well Visits (AWV) to our Medicare members. These visits align with our mission of coordinated care,  better health and cost containment through preventive healthcare.

Co-pays are waived for Annual Well Visits providing free health screenings for beneficiaries so that providers can develop relationships and create evidence-based risk assessments build upon a patients’ annual history.

Through the Health Risk Assessment (HRA), information about the patient is collected to gain a baseline on the patient’s health status including height, weight, blood pressure and any medical history. It also includes a self-assessment completed by the patient; addresses psychosocial risks including fatigue, stress, anger, loneliness/social isolation, pain, and depression; and behavioral risks associated with tobacco use, physical activity, nutrition and oral health, alcohol consumption, sexual health, motor vehicle safety (seat belt use), and home safety. The final component of the HRA is a functional status assessment which is an evaluation of the patient’s ability to complete tasks like dressing, feeding, grooming higher level skills such as shopping, food preparation, using the telephone, housekeeping, laundry, mode of transportation, responsibility for own medications, and ability to handle finances.

This comprehensive visit should be the beginning of a relationship that is mutually beneficial for both the provider and patient; they work together to establish an appropriate written screening. The patient will leave with a personal prevention plan, which often includes a healthcare checklist for the year ahead to help positively influence health behaviors.

These appointments are discussion-based, which means they are not rushed and offer both the patient and provider an opportunity to dive into questions and history that would normally be rushed or skipped over during an annual health exam. Patients get personalized time with their physician; providers are incentivized with higher reimbursement rates for these appointments if done correctly. 

Studies have shown that the healthcare spend decreases for those who participate in this program and the quality of care goes up. According to the American Journal of Managed Care, “In the context of 2 primary care physician-led accountable care organizations, Medicare Annual Wellness Visits were associated with lower healthcare costs and improved clinical care quality for beneficiaries.” (AJMA, 2019)

These appointments are working and through our partnership with our valued providers, Monument Health will continue to reach more Medicare beneficiaries while achieving our mission of coordinated care, better health and cost containment.

If you have a question about Annual Well Visits, reach out to our local Care Coordinators today to see if you or a loved one qualifies: 970.683.5630 or [email protected].