Family Medicine serving Benton, Bryant, Maumelle and Little Rock, Arkansas
When was the last time you saw a medical practitioner? This is a common question, and too many of us say it’s been years. It’s easy to avoid seeing the practitioner if you’re feeling good, but that comes with a lot of risks. A number of medical issues do affect us until they’re in advanced stages. Cancer is probably the most common one with this characteristic. An annual wellness visit is critical to ensure your health is on track and no hidden illnesses are building momentum to cause big problems later. An annual wellness check is a good idea for people of all ages but especially important if you’re 65 or older.
What is an Annual Wellness Visit?
Your annual wellness visit is not a physical, it is a conversation between you and your practitioner. You’ll talk about your health history and any concerns you may have. You’ll review medications and immunizations. It’s also a time when you and your practitioner review existing health problems, determine how to treat them and make a plan for future prevention.
Medicare Annual Wellness Visit
If you receive Medicare benefits, it covers your annual wellness visit. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can also schedule a physical exam at the same time.
Three Types of Wellness Visits
- The initial preventive physical exam (IPPE) – made within 12 months of your Medicare enrollment
- The initial wellness visit – takes place 11 full calendar months since the IPPE or if you’ve never had an IPPE and you’ve had Medicare coverage for more than 12 months.
- Subsequent annual wellness visits – these take place 11 full calendar months since the last annual wellness visit.
What to Expect During Your Annual Wellness Visit
During your first Annual Wellness Visit, your primary care practitioner will develop your personalized prevention plan. Expect the following:
- Your height, weight, blood pressure, and other routine measurements
- Health risk assessment
- This may include a questionnaire that you complete before or during the visit. The questionnaire asks about your health status, injury risks, behavioral risks, and urgent health needs.
- Review your functional ability and level of safety
- This includes screening for hearing impairments and your risk of falling.
- Your practitioner must also assess your ability to perform activities of daily living (such as bathing and dressing) and your level of safety at home.
- The practitioner will want to know about your medical and family history
- Make a list of your current providers, durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers, and medications
- Medications include prescription medications, as well as vitamins and supplements you may take
- The practitioner will Create a written 5-10 year screening schedule or check-list
- Screenings for cognitive impairment, including diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia
- Medicare does not require that practitioner s use a test to screen you. Instead, practitioners are asked to rely on their observations and/or on reports by you and others.
- Screen for depression
- Provide health advice and referrals to health education and/or preventive counseling services aimed at reducing identified risk factors and promoting wellness
- Health education and preventive counseling may relate to weight loss, physical activity, smoking cessation, fall prevention, nutrition, and more.
At subsequent annual wellness visits, your practitioner will:
- Check your weight and blood pressure
- Update the health risk assessment you completed
- Update your medical and family history
- Update your list of current medical providers and suppliers
- Update your written screening schedule
- Screen for cognitive issues
- Provide health advice and referrals to health education and/or preventive counseling services
How To Prepare for Your Annual Wellness Visit
Bring these items to your visit:
- Immunization records
- A list of your current prescribed medicines, supplements, and over-the-counter medicines
- A list of any specialists you see for care.
- A list of your questions you’d like to ask the provider