April 10, 2021
Don’t Delay Your Medicare Exams
By Laura Thielen MSN, APRN, FNP-BC
Due to the current pandemic, many patients have avoided visiting their healthcare providers’ offices unless absolutely necessary.
For those on Medicare, this includes scheduling either your “Welcome to Medicare” or your Annual Medicare Wellness visit. The “Welcome to Medicare” visit is for patients new to Medicare in the past 12 months while the Annual Medicare Wellness visit can be completed every year for those on Medicare. Both of these visits focus on updating health information, promoting preventative health measures, and creating a personalized care plan to promote overall health and wellness.
Most office visits focus on certain health issues or specific concerns, which can make it difficult to cover all the screenings and preventive services that may be recommended for individual patients. As a nurse practitioner, the Annual Medicare Wellness visit truly opens the door for me to have high quality and patient-centered conversations with those who schedule this preventive care visit. The visit includes discussing patients’ health goals, how patients rate their overall health, how confident one is in managing his or her own health, as well as any resources that may be needed to improve a patient’s independence and quality of life. Screenings are completed during the visit to monitor for vision changes, depression, cognitive changes, and fall risk. There is also an opportunity to discuss advanced directives and end of life wishes extensively so informed decisions can be made about future care. Personalized care plans are then created to promote preventative services, such as vaccines, testing, cancer screenings or smoking cessation that are appropriate for each patient.
Several studies have shown that Annual Medicare Wellness visits improve quality of care and may even decrease overall healthcare costs through early disease recognition and prevention. The goals of Annual Medicare Wellness visits include updating health information and allowing healthcare providers to determine overall health risks. This helps prevent illness and hospitalizations while improving quality of life for Medicare beneficiaries.
If you are interested in having a “Welcome to Medicare” or Annual Medicare Wellness visit, contact your healthcare provider to schedule your appointment.
Laura Thielen MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, is a family nurse practitioner at William Newton Hillside Family Medicine and is now accepting new patients. If you have comments or story ideas, call 620-221-2300, ext. 1113, or e-mail. The "Weekend Check-Up" is a regular health column published in the Cowley Courier Traveler penned by employees and friends of William Newton Hospital.