8 ways to promote the Annual Wellness Visit

With Medicare’s unveiling of the Annual Wellness Visit (AWV), preventive and wellness care are even more attainable to the senior. But according to Averel B. Snyder, MD, chief medical officer of Senior Wellness Solutions, less than 6 percent of Medicare beneficiaries received an AWV in 2011. “Many beneficiaries do not know to ask for the AWV, and providers frequently do not promote it,” noted Snyder.

[See also: The annual wellness visit: An opportunity to improve revenue and patient care]

Practices that don’t promote the AWV are missing an easy opportunity to support both their brand and their patients’ health. Consider these marketing tactics to improve patient satisfaction through the AWV:

  1. Use your EHR or patient database to mail reminders to your Medicare patients on their birthday or the first of the year. Remind them that they’re 100 percent covered for an AWV.
  2. Make wellness visit scheduling part of the Medicare patient’s checkout. If the patient comes to you for a sick visit, be sure he or she is scheduled for an AWV along with any follow-ups.
  3. Use the wellness visit as a chance to share information about your practice with patients. Tell them about any positive changes they can come to expect in the practice, and ask for their input. Your patients are a free research focus group.
  4. Be prepared for the patient’s visit. Don’t use up his or her time shuffling through papers to determine which screenings or other preventive measures are due. Good preparation will reinforce your brand as a modern, organized practice, while increasing efficiency, saving time and ultimately impacting your practice’s bottom line.
  5. Align yourself with technology to strengthen your brand as a progressive practice. One way to do this, for more tech-savvy Medicare patients, is to suggest health-related apps for their smartphones. Have a tablet device available to show them how the apps work.
  6. Produce easy-to-read information sheets on the latest items of concern to seniors -- for example, new medications, new standards for screenings, etc. Hand these out during the AWV.
  7. Consider creating a small, customized pamphlet for your patients to take with them after their AWV. This piece can be branded with your practice’s logo. The final printed piece would include their vitals, a wellness “to-do” list and contact information for further screenings or lab work.
  8. Consider placing electronic picture frames, tent cards or small posters in your waiting area to remind patients of the AWR.  The message might be something like…“If you are a Medicare recipient – make sure you’re getting your FREE annual wellness visit.”

The AWV can be an important preventative strategy and enable the patient to continue or to become an active participant in his/her health. It’s your chance to connect with the patient, in an atmosphere that is positive. By doing this, your whole practice can stay strong.

Cindy Thomas Wright has practiced marketing and communications for more than 25 years. She owns a strategic marketing and communications firm, Thomas Wright Partners, which works with leaders in healthcare, industry and government to develop brands and programs that build consensus, grow business and affect change.