When your Medicare patients skip their annual wellness visit, your practice misses an opportunity for patient engagement about their health. And it isn’t just patient engagement you miss, you also miss a great revenue-generating opportunity.
Overview of Annual Wellness Visit
Medicare Part B beneficiaries are eligible for a free annual wellness visit (AWV) each year. The AWV is not the same type of visit as a physical exam. The purpose is to assess the patient's overall wellness and develop a personalized prevention plan that addresses physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.
A majority of Medicare beneficiaries and their primary care providers, though, do not take advantage of this benefit. Utilization of the service varies nationwide, but on average only about 20 percent of Medicare patients complete their AWV. Practices that implement a process for efficiently conducting AWVs and execute a strategy to encourage patients to schedule AWVs can better fill care gaps and improve patients’ overall health, all while boosting their clinic’s revenue.
Follow the four-step strategy below to encourage more patients to use this benefit.
Finding patients who qualify or need their AWV shouldn’t be difficult. By using patient data that your clinic already has on file, which is located within their EHR and practice management systems, your office can create reports to identify which patients are eligible for an AWV. If the patient has had Medicare Part B coverage for at least 12 months, the patient could be eligible.
In advance of the day's appointments, determine if any of the patients being seen might be eligible for an AWV. Flag these patients to receive a personal invitation from their provider to schedule an AWV. Patients are more likely to receive an AWV when their physician recommends they do so.
Build a communication strategy for different platforms to inform patients about the AWV and invite them to schedule one. Communicate to the patients you identified as AWV-eligible via phone, text message, secure email, or mail. Your practice should be tracking your patients' communication preferences so that it can make good use of that data. Your strategy may include the use of an automated messaging system to notify patients about the AWV, for example. Remember to be mindful of HIPAA requirements for privacy and security when communicating with patients.
Allow for follow-up contact, since many patients may not schedule an AWV after the first communication.
Include providers in the communicating strategy, asking that they recommend an AWV to eligible patients during regular daily appointments.
Assign tasks to staff for completion. Make the needed assignments for your staff to push the email and text messages out to patients or to even make personal phone calls to them. Ensure your staff is able to explain the elements of an AWV and can answer any questions patients might have. Also, be sure your practice management platform is set up appropriately in order to schedule the AWV appointments while the staff has the patient on the phone.
Track results to gauge the success of your strategy and the effectiveness of your messaging. A few questions you should ask and find answers to are the following: Does one platform lead to more patient responses? How many patients schedule an AWV? How many follow through with their appointment? Make appropriate adjustments to your communication strategy based on the data retrieved. Eventually, you can use practice management data to analyze the impact of AWVs on your revenue as well as determine the impact other preventive services have on your bottom line.
If your practice wants to increase the number of patients who come in for an AWV, follow this four-step strategy: identify eligible patients, develop a communication strategy, determine the outreach methods according to that strategy, and measure the results of your outreach. Contact PCIS GOLD to see how our Practice Management system can help your AWV strategy with robust reporting, simple scheduling, and a built-in reminder system.