Annual Wellness Visits (AWV) with primary care providers is a Medicare benefit to help patients prevent or manage health care concerns/issues. Currently, this Medicare provided benefit has no co-pay to the patient.
Wellness visits include a health risk assessment that can help identify high-risk behaviors, and make recommendations for preventive screenings and referrals. A physical examination is different from a wellness visit in that it is a hands on annual exam. Medicare does not cover routine physical exams.
Guidelines to check:
History - Conduct patient history and medication list by requesting this information in advance so that documentation is completed and can be discussed when a patient enters the wellness visit.
Screen patient for depression, their safety and functional ability. Depression screening and functional ability assessment, along with the safety screening, may be able to be managed by trained support staff in advance of the patient visit.
Cognitive assessment of patient with input from caregivers or family members who may be present during the wellness visit. Gathering impressions from the staff who obtained the patient history or performed other elements of the encounter could also be beneficial. Documentation should include evidence of assessment, such as notations of the patient's general appearance, affect, speech, memory and motor skills.
Screen for hearing and vision loss.
The wellness visit also includes checking height, weight, body mass index and blood pressure. It is a good time to check a patient’s physical activity level and last exam date, recommend preventive screenings and check for known medical conditions. By identifying patient behavioral risks and problems through their medical history and screenings, the AWV can be an opportunity to discuss interventions and order further screenings. Discussion can also include education on advance care directives.
For more information go to ACP tools for wellness visits. Billing codes for initial AWV is G0438, subsequent AWV G0439, diagnosis code V70.0.
Contributed by: The Physician Alliance, one of Michigan’s largest physician organizations serving more than 2,200 physicians in southeast Michigan.
This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Please consult your doctor for more information or if you have a medical concern.
Sources: American College of Physicians, American Academy of Family Physicians, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)