Top Ways for Practices to Save Money on Annual Wellness Visits in 2016

4-1Pic1Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2011, there has been an increased focus on promoting annual wellness visits as a way to improve Medicare patients’ overall health and reduce health care costs.

In 2012, 2.8 million patients saw their physicians for annual wellness visits. In 2013, that number rose to 4 million, and it grew again in 2014 according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

While those are not overwhelming numbers, it is likely that practices across the country will continue to see an influx of patients taking advantage of their preventative care benefits as the federal government increases promotion.

That can be an expensive proposition for practices.

Annual wellness visits are time-intensive. The government also reimburses them at a rate of approximately $170 per visit, according to the Innovative Healthcare Team. While annual wellness visits may be time-consuming for the amount of reimbursement allowed, there are other ways to capture value from them for your patients and your practice.

Here’s a look at how your practice can lower the costs associated with–and increase the value of–annual wellness visits in 2016:

  • Have non-physician practitioners perform the service. Physicians are not the only members of your health care team that are allowed to deliver annual wellness visits. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services also allow non-physician practitioners, such as registered nurses, to perform the check up.
  • Couple the annual wellness visit with other services. The Affordable Care Act allows practices to perform additional services at the same time as wellness visits. To better meet patient needs, you can provide a wellness visit and a visit that allows you to address more serious and time-consuming patient concerns (commonly coded as a Level-3 visit) on the same day. For example, you can also include screening breast and pelvic exams, as well as abdominal aortic aneurysm screening. Coupling annual wellness visits with other services saves time and increases reimbursement, as long as you follow specific billing instructions.
  • Fill openings with wellness visits. If your practice creates a system for proactively filling its calendar with wellness visits, you will have a guaranteed source of income. This can be a valuable revenue source if you master the logistics of filling spots on your calendar that would otherwise go unfilled.

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