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Importance of the Annual Wellness Visit (AWV)

Annual Wellness Visits (AWVs) are a great opportunity for patients to connect with their provider about health and wellness during a covered visit. This high-value health action enables providers to establish a personal connection with the patient/member and opens the lines of communication essential for long-term health and the preventive measures that support it.

Not only does this visit include conversations about health history and existing medical concerns or SDoH barriers, but it also lets the provider review medications and immunizations as well as develop a personalized prevention plan. Patients can be encouraged to get critical lab tests and take other important health actions, making the AWV an effective gateway for preventive screenings.

In fact, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island found members who completed an Annual Wellness Visit were 9 times more likely to close other healthcare gaps, such as cancer screenings.

Yet, many patients either are not aware of the need for these visits or choose not to go. Why are people so hesitant to see their physician?

The reasons are many, ranging from a lack of interest if they feel fine to fear of a new health problem to general distrust of the healthcare system overall. Regardless of the reasons, CHA and providers need to encourage patients to complete AWVs and begin the process of improving their health. In this way, CHA can collaborate with providers to document chronic conditions and manage costs efficiently.

Here are two strategies to drive patients to complete their AWVs.

Offer Flexible Options for the Visit

While in-person visits are an excellent way to build a rapport between a provider and a patient, there are many other avenues to consider from a convenience standpoint. COVID-19 has pushed the use of telehealth visits into the mainstream, and many people may prefer this route if they are tech-savvy and prefer to see their provider from home.

Mitigate the Impact of SDoH and Health Equity Barriers

Many of your patients likely face social determinants of health (SDoH) that make it difficult or even impossible to get to an AWV in any form. This is where your engagement strategy pays dividends. If you’ve been building a relationship with the patient through strong outreach, you may have already uncovered the barriers they face and can help mitigate them.

Specifically, if a lack of transportation is a problem, patients might be more inclined to schedule an AWV once they learn transport services are a covered benefit with both their CHA and/or Atrio plan.

Improving patient health is a journey, one that can start with a strong relationship with a trusted provider as well as a positive experience with the health plan. Once these connections are established, it becomes easier to identify the steps patients should take to manage existing conditions, get the preventive screenings they need to catch emerging issues early, and better understand how to take care of themselves.

Additionally, these visits are essential for providers tasked with meeting population health goals that start with assessing health and risk. For health plans, the AWV is an important part of improving long-term outcomes through well-managed care and reducing costs for everyone along the way.