Valery DeSimone, PA-C
Valery routinely sees Medicare patients for their Annual Wellness Visit at OptumCare Medical Group, an internal medicine practice in South Orange County, California. She also worked as a dermatology PA for eight years, and uses that experience in her day-to-day work in internal medicine.
Masters of Physician Assistant Studies, Yale University B.S. in Biology, University of California, Davis
NCCPA CERTIFICATIONS & CREDENTIALS:
Certified physician assistant (PA-C)
“As healthcare evolves, a provider’s role becomes more complex. Valery provides and augments the ongoing access to keep continuity of care flowing. She broadens office services, decreases the need for certain referrals and captures data and metrics which health plans now require for quality. The complexion of the office would be compromised by her absence.” --Vincent Duda, M.D.
Read Valery’s blog below on providing the Annual Wellness Visit for Medicare patients here. This blog was previously published in Physicians Practice.
Annual Wellness Visit is a Win-Win for Patient and Practice
By Valery DeSimone, PA-C
The annual wellness visit (AWV), funded by Medicare, is a special opportunity to communicate to your senior patient population and understand their needs at a deeper level, providing them a free opportunity to assess and advocate for their own health going forward.
I work in an internal medicine practice where over half of our patients have Medicare as their primary insurance. As a certified physician assistant (PA-C), I see several patients every week for this type of visit.
The AWV is not intended to be a typical appointment aimed at treating acute illness or chronic conditions. Rather, it is more of a discussion than an exam, focused on assessing the patient’s current health baseline and helping them understand how health maintenance and prevention will keep them out of the doctor’s office.
Building on this discussion, I can then coordinate care with specialists and provide continuity of care going forward. This visit solidifies this patient in your practice as they begin to understand it is their “medical home.” This is a visit that all seniors should have, even those who feel good and are not in need of health care at the moment – but they may need your encouragement to understand its availability and importance.
To make the most out of this visit, here are four questions to ask your patients when scheduling the AWV appointment:
1. Can you create a health history folder and bring it to your appointment? The appointment will go more quickly and be less stressful if the patient has already made a list of vaccinations, prior surgeries and dates. Your records probably don’t include that flu or shingles vaccine the patient got at the local pharmacy.
2. Can you bring a list of all specialists you have seen in the past few years? Many patients self-refer and may be seeing seeing a cardiologist, an ob/gyn, urologist etc. This list may bring to light medical issues that the patient hasn’t mentioned.
3. Can you bring in all prescriptions, supplements and over the counter medications in their original containers? This ensures you have the correct information on dosage and frequency and allows you to discuss any concerns about drug interactions or duplication.
4. Do you have an advanced directive? The AWV is a unique opportunity to discuss end-of-life issues. If they have one, scan it into their chart for use should the need arise. If they don’t have an advanced directive, you can give them one to fill out or take home to discuss with family. You are doing them a great service by provoking this discussion.
The AWV can be a vehicle to ensure early detection. It allows you to screen for early identification tests based on risk factors. However, it is important in this population especially to prioritize scheduling so the patient is not overwhelmed with a battery of follow up tests.
The AWV collects a significant amount of baseline data, so the first appointment can take an hour. As the name implies, it is an annual visit, and in subsequent years the appointment should be shorter.
Some physicians feel the reimbursement is too low for this comprehensive visit. However, if your practice markets the annual wellness visit effectively, it can provide additional revenue from new patients and cement your relationship with existing ones.
Certified PAs are highly-qualified to manage the annual wellness program in your office. We are highly educated, nationally certified and licensed by state medical boards. Studies show we provide high value as we deliver cost-effective, quality care.
Consider making the AWV a “best practice” for your office, and reach out to your senior population to offer them this Medicare-paid opportunity for better health.