Medicare Annual Wellness Visits

November 1, 2022

Danielle Spree, a clinical quality and health analytics manager at University Medical Center, encourages older adults to have an Annual Medicare Wellness Visit (AWV) with their doctor. She provided information about AWVs during an October Mini Medical School presentation. The Mini Medical School lecture series is a collaboration of The University of Alabama OLLI program and the College of Community Health Sciences, which operates UMC.

AWVs are yearly prevention-focused visits where the patient and primary care provider develop a personalized health-care plan for the patient. The visits focus on preventive care and long-term needs, and topics that might have been missed during other office visits. AWVs are performed by physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, certified clinical nurse specialists and other medical professionals.

AWVs are covered by Medicare and there is no patient co-pay or deductible that has to be met. There is no additional cost for the patient if an AWV is added to a routine chronic care visit or if done by itself.

Spree said integral parts of an AWV are the assessment of patient risk factors, such as risk for falling, supporting systems, wellness education and discussion of advance care planning.

AWVs provide opportunities to capture quality measures, which are tools that help doctors and other providers measure or quantify health-care processes, outcomes, patient perceptions and organizational structure, with the ability to provide high-quality health care that relate to one or more quality goals. Examples include controlling high blood pressure and diabetes, preventive care screening for colorectal cancer and breast cancer, and vaccination status.

Spree said high-risk patients who receive an AWV tend to have fewer hospitalizations and doctor visits, and their performance is significantly better on screening measures for falls, depression and vaccines.

The AWV also provides a health-risk assessment tool to address topics such as demographic data, self-assessment of health status, psychosocial and behavioral risks, and activities of daily living.