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Issue Brief: Medicare Annual Wellness Visit

In a recent VSSL Volumes Issue Brief, VSSL members Drs. Kate Majzoub Perez and Joshua Liao provide a summary of key points related to Chronic Care Management (CCM) services.

The brief continues a series of VSSL Volumes publications focused on services and policies implemented with the goal of improving care coordination for patients. Within that context, AWVs encourage clinicians to increase focus on preventive care by engaging patients in health risk assessments and the creation of personalized prevention plans.

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As Drs. Perez and Liao write:

"In 2011, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) introduced Annual Wellness Visit (AWV) fee-for-service billing codes in order to encourage healthcare providers to place increased focus on preventive care. The AWV is offered free of charge to Medicare beneficiaries with the stated purpose to “develop or update a personalized prevention plan, and perform a health risk assessment.” The percentage of Medicare beneficiaries receiving AWVs increased from 7.5% in 2011 to 15.6% in 2014. Early analyses suggest that, as intended, patients who receive AWVs are more likely to receive preventive services than patients who don’t receive AWVs. AWVs may also reduce total costs of care for some patients in accountable care organizations."

In addition to describing elements of AWVs, Drs. Perez and Liao also highlight the need for more research elucidating a number of key issues related to AWVs, including

longer-term trends in AWV use, the rate at which AWV claims are denied, common

reasons for why AWV claims are denied, types of healthcare providers performing

AWVs, barriers to AWV use, and most importantly, how AWVs affect patient

outcomes over time.