Don’t Skip Your Annual Wellness Visit

Feb 5 2020

Children have healthy visits with their pediatrician. Now, it’s your turn with this healthy visit for the mature!

You hopefully already go to your primary care provider for your annual physical exam. However, if you have Medicare Part B coverage, there is another key benefit you have – the Annual Wellness Visit, or AWV.

Annual Wellness Visit vs. Annual Physical Exam

The AWV is different from your yearly physical or a sick visit for many reasons. In fact, the only similarity between your yearly physical exam and the wellness visit is that you’ll have your vital signs (height, weight, blood pressure, etc.) checked at both appointments.

The focus during an annual wellness visit is on problem prevention and education.

“Even if you are someone with existing health conditions, during this visit, we’re not solely focused on talking about those,” shares Sev Friskney, a nurse at Mercy Health – White Oak Primary Care.

Instead, the focus of the visit is to help you live healthier — not just quantity of years, but quality of years.

During this visit you may:  

  • Review your past medical and family history
  • Discuss any potential health risks following various assessments
  • Complete a comprehensive medication review
  • Learn how to improve your health and prevent disease
  • Cover topics like nutrition and activity levels
  • Be asked about advanced directives and if you’ve created a living will
  • Talk about any appropriate preventative health services that are needed as a follow-up to the visit

Sev’s Success Stories

Before becoming a part of the annual wellness visit care team at Mercy Health – White Oak Primary Care, Sev served in a role with no direct patient interaction. Sev is now grateful for the opportunity to care for patients during their AWV. She is passionate about her job and the value this visit brings to each individual.

During one specific appointment, Sev was simply taking a patient’s blood pressure.

“I thought I heard an irregular heartbeat,” she recalls. “The patient was able to come back the next day to see their physician, and then referred to cardiology. Without the visit, this problem might not have been identified.”

Additionally, Sev feels patients find the opportunity to have a conversation during these visits to be very helpful.

“I have found that patients open up during these visits, and that being there to listen is a great service,” she says.

Over this past holiday season, Sev was seeing a patient and learned the visit was taking place shortly before the first anniversary of the patient’s husband’s death.

“I simply asked, ‘I see you’re coming up on a tough anniversary, tell me about him and your life.’ I think it was what she needed. Wellness was just the opportunity to talk about the love of her life, share their story, and what she’s doing to help herself through emotionally and physically,” says Sev.

If you have been enrolled in Medicare Part B for longer than 12 months, you’re entitled to the annual wellness visit benefit at no cost. Check your Medicare Part B plan for additional details.

To schedule your annual wellness visit, contact your primary care provider’s office. If you need to establish care, check out our full listing of our primary care providers.

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