Traditionally, U.S. healthcare has been reactionary and focused more on treating disease in people who are already sick. More recently, there has been significant movement toward a more proactive approach that aims to prevent disease in the first place.
Scheduling an annual visit with your doctor is one of the best preventative measures you can take for your future health and wellbeing.
While you are likely familiar with the concept of a yearly physical, there is another type of visit that is equally as important if you are of Medicare-age called an Annual Wellness Visit (AWV).
Let’s break down the difference between the two and why they are important:
Annual Wellness Visits
For patients of Medicare-age (65+), these are yearly appointments with your primary care provider that provide an opportunity to create and discuss your personalized health plan. These visits are not the same as yearly physicals because they are more hands-off.
During an AWV, your doctor will typically:
- Take routine measurements, such as blood pressure and heart rate
- Discuss your immediate and long-term health goals
- Review your current medication list and recommend adjustments as necessary
- Assess your functional abilities, (i.e., cognitive and hearing) and perform a fall-risk assessment
- Screening for cognitive impairment, including dementia
- Provide personalized health education
An AWV is an opportunity to proactively identify risk factors for certain chronic disease, such as diabetes and heart disease, and work with your provider to mitigate or prevent disease altogether.
Be sure to let your doctor’s office know if you would like an AWV specifically. AWVs are generally covered 100% by Medicare and other insurance companies, while physical exams generally require a co-pay.
Even if you are young and feel healthy, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of seeing your primary care doctor at least once a year. Annual physical exams can uncover “silent” health conditions, such as high blood pressure, that can damage your health without causing any symptoms. It’s much easier and more effective to catch potential problems early on when they are more manageable, and annual physicals are especially important for those that have a history of medical conditions in their family, such as cancer or high blood pressure.
At your annual physical, your doctor will:
- Check your vital signs: This includes taking your temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration rate.
- Perform the physical exam: This step includes inspecting your eyes, ears, and throat. Your provider may also touch areas like your abdomen and back to check for issues.
- Update your vaccines: Depending on your current age, your physician may recommend new vaccinations or booster shots.
- Make sure you get the screenings you need: Your physician will let you know if you need a blood test, colonoscopy, or bone density scan and help you schedule them.
- Update your health records: If you have existing conditions or experience any changes to your health, your physician will help you keep your current health practices and records up-to-date.
If you’re ready for your AWV or physical, Revere Health can help. Visit https://reverehealth.com/specialty/family-medicine/ to view a list of Family Medicine locations in your area.