What Is an Annual Wellness Visit and Why Is It Important?

Individuals are living longer, and often maintaining relatively good health well into old age. One aspect of maintaining optimal health among seniors is an annual wellness visit. Along with a physical, an annual wellness visit represents an opportunity for medical caregivers to evaluate the best course for maintaining the best possible health outcomes for their senior patients.

What Is an Annual Wellness Visit?

First and foremost, an annual wellness visit is NOT a physical, although the two may be combined. Instead, an annual wellness visit is a comprehensive conversation between a patient and a physician, nurse or nurse practitioner. An annual visit conversation covers a range of topics, including general health and family history, medications, including over-the-counter medications, health concerns, treatments with other health care professionals, including mental health treatments and immunization records. The conversation might consider whether changes in medication are called for or cover health concerns that may arise in the future.

Elements of an Annual Wellness Appointment

HIPPA laws prohibit the sharing of medical information concerning patients without their permission. Therefore, it is essential to bring copies of all relevant medical records to the appointment. Important documents and information include the following:

  • Diagnostic Test History
  • Medication List
  • Immunizations
  • Smoking, Drinking, (Illegal) Drug Use
  • Mental Health Assessment
  • Recommended Wellness Screenings
  • Instructions for Advance Directives

The Personal Health Record

The result of an annual wellness assessment is a comprehensive dossier known as a Personal Health Record, a copy of which can be supplied to the patient after the appointment has concluded. A Personal Health Record can be useful in consultations with other physicians, clinics and health care providers – thereby avoiding possible obstacles to receiving care due to HIPPA regulations. The patient’s adult children should also be provided with a copy in case emergency care is needed in the future.

A Proactive Approach to Healthcare

An annual wellness visit represents an important aspect of maintaining good health. Along with an annual physical and maintaining healthy diet and exercise, an annual wellness visit represents a proactive approach to maintaining good health.