Why are Annual Wellness Visits Important?
Annual Wellness Visits (AWV) are available at no cost to everyone on Medicare every year. These visits are a chance for older adults to talk to their primary care provider about their overall health, review any chronic health concerns they have, determine what preventive care they should consider and what they can do to stay as healthy as possible.
HealthPartners has had a focus on completing AWV since 2017. New member packets highlight the importance of completing an AWV, making members aware of this benefit. Many clinics are focused on completing the AWV and see the value it has in the management of chronic conditions and preventive care.
What did we do to increase Annual Wellness Visits among our members?
HealthPartners implemented a campaign to increase AWV across our organization. We shared information with both our members and the clinics in our care system about the importance of Annual Wellness Visits. During the Covid-10 pandemic, CMS relaxed restrictions regarding telemedicine and the Medicare Annual Wellness Visit, allowing these to be completed in a telehealth visit. HealthPartners promoted virtual AWV to members and it was the highest performing member campaign during this period.
The largest provider group quickly adjusted to switch to virtual visits and offered either face to face or telehealth visits (video or phone). They tweaked processes and tools for telehealth by adding a memory question and providing an E-check in. This sent the questionnaire to the patient to be done in advance, and answers to the questions were added to the chart automatically. There was an option to add the AWV to an existing visit. The largest provider group cares for approximately 75% of the MSHO population.
How did we reach out to members?
Our MSHO Care Coordinators talked to members about how important these visits are and helped them schedule the visits if needed. We asked our myVoice panel, an on-line survey group, about what they knew about AWV and what they would like to know about them. Using that information, we created and sent information to our MSHO members about AWV and encouraged them to talk to their doctor about them. Members who prefer e-mail are sent the information via e-mail. Others receive mailed information. We offer our MSHO members an incentive for receiving an AWV.
How do we collaborate with providers?
We worked with our network partners to encourage them to increase their use of AWVs to enhance their healthcare management strategies with their patients. Our provider newsletter promoted the AWV and included important topics that clinicians should discuss during the visit with their patient. In an effort to increase AWV rates, some clinics successfully utilized a strategy to bundle AWVs with other types of visits. Network clinics shared best practices at our Quality Connections forums. We work with select providers in an incentive program to promote completion of the AWV. This program continued in 2021 through the pandemic with the ability to administer the AWV virtually.
What challenges did we face?
Member awareness of Annual Wellness Visits has been an issue. Many older adults are not familiar with the AWV or don’t understand how an AWV is different than an annual physical.
Many clinics had to restructure their scheduling processes to add this type of visits to their clinician schedules.
The Covid-19 Pandemic had a detrimental impact on completion of the Annual Wellness Visits in 2020. Even with the shift to virtual visits, there were many challenges faced by the Medicare population. This rebounded dramatically in 2021 resulting in a significant improvement even over pre-pandemic rates.
Annual Wellness Visit completion has increased over 1000% since this initiative began.
HealthPartners is committed to encouraging our MSHO members to receive an AWV. We will continue to offer MSHO members an incentive for completing this type of visit. We will continue to support our network partners to encourage older adults to receive Annual Wellness Visits through sharing information and contracting strategies.