Wellness visits offer added care
FAIRMONT — Medicare Part B offers free annual wellness visits at Mayo Clinic Health System-Fairmont.
An annual wellness visit is a 45- to 60-minute appointment with a registered nurse to focus on prevention, health and wellness. Many people are eligible for the offer but are unaware of it.
When patients sign up for Medicare, there is a welcome to Medicare visit, but there are also these annual medical wellness visits that are completely covered.
“If their plan includes Medicare Part B, this is no cost to them,” said ToniLynn Fleming.
Fleming works in family medicine and is an ambulatory nurse in the clinic. She has been conducting all of the Medicare visits.
Fleming explained that Mayo was accepted by Medicare to participate as an ACO (accountable care organization) this year, which is making the annual wellness visits a part of the team-based approach to care a priority, even though the Fairmont site has been offering the visits for five years.
“We’re aiming to do about 50 visits a month. Most months we average around 30,” Fleming shared.
In order to promote the visits and get the word out, Fleming said they have been calling people who are on Medicare Part B and urging them to come in.
“We’ll call people and say, ‘You’re coming in to see your provider, would you mind coming in a little early to do this visit too?’ It helps the provider visit go more smoothly if they’ve already done the preventative visit with me,” Fleming said.
Generally speaking, the age is 66 and older for the annual wellness visit. Fleming explained that they are preventative visits.
“We identify any health risks they might have based on their medical history, their current medical problems or medications that they’re taking. We then make a plan to help prevent them from other problems in the future and to keep them well and healthy and have the best quality of life that they can,” she said.
They also do several assessments during the visit. Three main assessments include whether someone is at risk for falling, cognitive impairment assessments and depression screening.
“A lot of things can bring on depression for that population. It can be health issues, death of loved ones or even weather. We can make a plan together and walk about lifestyle things they can do to help make themselves well,” Fleming said.
When people see their regular provider for a visit, they can further address any concerns that were identified during the wellness visit. As Fleming pointed out, when someone meets with their regular provider, they only have 30 minutes to go over what the main concern is, so providers don’t have much time to go over preventative care.
“Assessments are not a normal part of their visit with a doctor,” Fleming pointed out.
Fleming added that if other concerns come up during conversation, they have resources available and can help with housekeeping services, driving services or meal assistance. She said that it is beneficial for some patients to just have time to talk.
“I love patent interaction. Instead of all the RNs doing some, it was decided that I would do all of them. I really enjoy meeting with the patients and discussing their health needs and wellness plans,” Fleming said.
Other local Mayo sites that offer the annual wellness visits include Mankato, St. Peter, St. James and Waseca, to name a few.
“Ultimately, it leads to better quality of life. Medicare’s benefit to them is that it’s going to cost them less in money. For the patient, it means they’ll have a better quality of life because we can address some issues before it becomes a big problem,” Fleming said.
Those interested may call Mayo Clinic Health System-Fairmont at (507) 238-8500 and ask to be scheduled for a Medicare Annual Wellness Visit with a registered nurse.