The Importance of the Annual Wellness Visit

Going to see your doctor for your Annual Wellness Visit (AWV) shouldn’t be something you avoid.  Instead, making an appointment for an Annual Wellness Visit for you or for someone you love is a simple way to take control of your health again.

This one simple appointment known as an Annual Wellness Visit is actually known to cut hospitalization rates by 40 percent! Wouldn’t you rather make an appointment on your own time and ensure you’re healthy than find out about an issue after you’ve already landed yourself in the hospital?

Before you or your loved ones end up in the hospital from something that might have been prevented, make sure you are following up with your doctor for this specific kind of appointment.

What can I expect from my Annual Wellness Visit? 

Doctors will be most likely checking in with you on where you are with your own health and fitness goals. At the time of the Annual Wellness Visit, your doctor will ensure you are up to date on your immunizations, take the time to schedule any cancer screenings, and assess your risk for falling, the status of the health and safety at your home, any signs of early onset dementia, depression, or substance abuse. Finally, your doctor will review your medical history with you to make sure there is nothing outstanding that he or she should be aware of.

Annual Wellness Visits keep patients out of the hospital because in these appointments, immunizations and cancer screens are checked.  Through proper screening, cancer can be detected much sooner. The sooner cancer can be caught, the better chance an individual will have in getting a head start on the road to recovery.  When the AWV finds a gap in recommended immunizations, giving that immunization can prevent a hospitalization for influenza, pneumonia or even shingles.

Especially in regards to the elderly population, the doctor assessing the potential for a possible fall and encouraging the individual and their family members to take the appropriate measures can help keep someone who is vulnerable much safer. Physical and cognitive health are given the care and attention they deserve, as well.

For more information about the importance of an Annual Wellness Visit, please visit our website at You will find our short two-minute video on our homepage. If you’re ready to schedule your Annual Wellness Visit with Peak Annual Wellness Center, please contact us through the Contact page on our website.

Be well!

Jeffrey E. Epstein, MD is the Medical Director for Peak Annual Wellness Center in Lakeland FL.  Peak AWC’s mission is to help our seniors stay healthy so they can enjoy a high quality of life for as long as possible.   For more information,  

PEAK Annual Wellness Center: Helping to Keep Our Seniors Healthy, Robust & Strong

The senior citizens living in our community have worked hard to get where they are today and they deserve the best, most attentive, all-encompassing care that can be provided.  Most of them are enjoying retirement and their health, above all other things determines how well they move about, interact with their friends and family, and participate in their community, which is very important.  At Peak Annual Wellness Center, we understand that although it seems very simple, providing senior citizens with thorough annual wellness exams can make a difference in their future health and the future health of the community.

What is the goal?

The physicians at Peak Annual Wellness Center have one goal:  To keep the senior citizens in our community healthy and to identify any gaps in their care.  Believe it or not, even if someone sees their primary care physician on a regular basis, diagnosis and health concerns can still fall through the cracks.

How does it work?

When a senior citizen from the community attends a wellness exam at Peak Annual Wellness Center, the physicians slow down, take their time, listen to the concerns of the patient and aim to understand where you are in your health and fitness journey. By taking their time and creating a personable, comfortable environment for your visit they are more likely to catch a gap in your care that could lead to a bad case of the flu, or even cancer. Any documents and information that you receive at your visit can be transferred to your primary care doctor for follow up.

Who is it for?

Literally, everyone over the age of 65 is the perfect candidate for a visit to Peak Annual Wellness Center.  Take Jane Smith for example.  Jane came into the center as a perfectly healthy 68-year-old woman.  While at the center, Jane received attentive care and was attended to by some of the best physicians in the area. Jane learned that she was in need of a DEXA scan, shingles shot and that she was a fall candidate due to a previous injury.  Overall, Jane left the appointment more aware of her health and what she needed to do to take better care of herself. As a result, Jane will be on her way to a healthier future in no time.

When should I come in?

If you are a candidate for a visit to Peak Annual Wellness Center or know someone who is, you should call to make your appointment right away.  There is no time to waste when it comes to your health.  Your friends, family, and community need you to stay healthy, robust and strong so that you can live the life you deserve and have always dreamed of.  We can’t wait to meet you.

Reporting MIPS, Medicare’s “Merit-based Incentive Payment System” is Easier Than You Think


MACRA-MIPS has been with us since January and this year’s data will determine your penalty/bonus in 2019.  This applies to all your outpatient Traditional Medicare revenue.  The penalty starts at 4% and increases to 9% over the next 5 years.  For a practice with $200,000 in Medicare revenue, this would be $8,000 this year to $18,000 in 2023.

Many doctors have accepted the penalty because they don’t want to spend time and money addressing another burdensome government regulation.  They feel the money is not worth the effort and stress to comply.  They are overwhelmed with all the changes occurring in healthcare and they have chosen to ignore this particular burdensome regulation.

In June 2017, CMS updated the MACRA-MIPS regulations, and one of the most important measures was to allow providers to report only Quality data, this year, to avoid the penalty.  In this article, I will show you how to report that data and then how to develop a plan for 2018 to protect money for 2020 and forward.

MACRA-MIPS has four components, Quality, Advancing Care Information (ACI), Clinical Practice Improvement and Utilization  

The Quality requirement is similar to PQRS, ACI is similar to Meaningful Use (MU) and Clinical Practice Improvement is new.  Utilization is determined from billing data which you submit through your billing service.

Quality Data can be reported using a service like MDinteractive.  For $199 per year, they provide all the tools and information you need to handle MIPS.  They are the number two CMS Qualified Medicare Registry, and they provide one- stop shopping for submitting Quality, Advancing Care Information, and Improvement Activity data to CMS to fulfill requirements of the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).  I would recommend finding a service like this to use as your reporting platform.

Why is avoiding the penalty so easy?

Because you are probably already doing what MIPS requires and all you have to do is report it.  The quality requirement is 6 quality measures that you select from a menu of 50 choices.  Your six simple quality measures can include HgA1C and Eye Exam in diabetics, ACE/ARB in heart failure patients and Flu Shot, Mammogram and Colonoscopy for all patients.  There are many others to choose from and you should choose what you already do and chose metrics that will be simple and easiest for you to report.

In our next article, we will discuss Advancing Care Information, Clinical Practice Improvement Activities and Utilization metrics.  Right now, your best use of time would be to study the quality metrics and see if you can report something for 2017 to avoid the penalty this year.  Look into a qualified Medicare registry like MDinteractive to help. Remember that MIPS is graded on a “curve”, so all you have to do is be better than your peers.  In 2017, this will be easy since most doctors are ignoring MIPS.  Good luck!

Jeffrey E. Epstein, MD is double boarded in geriatric medicine and general internal medicine.  For the last 7 years, he has been a hospital medical director working in the area of documentation, compliance and operations.  He has studies MACRA-MIPS in great detail and is staring a company that does Annual Wellness Visits on Medicare Patients.  His company partners with physician practices to get the AWVs done.  Once an AWV is done, all elements of MACRA-MIPS can be reported for maximal bonus and physician’s professional reputation soars because of the quality reporting that the do.

Keeping Our Seniors Healthy: 40% Reduction in Hospitalizations

Did you know that 80% of our seniors have not received the AWV which means that 80% are still at an increased risk of hospitalization?

In a study of 17,000 Medicare patients, done in 2015, Novus Healthcare found that the Annual Wellness Visit (AWV) reduce hospitalizations by 40%.

How does the AWV reduce hospitalizations?

There are many thoughts about this, but most agree it is a combination factors.  Double checking the immunizations and cancer screens can turn up something that was missed, and closing that “gap in care” can prevent that condition which would likely lead to hospitalization or worse.  Screening for fall risk, home safety and memory loss, especially in those getting weak and forgetful, is also critical to preventing hospitalizations from accidents.

The Annual Wellness Visit (AWV) is a much more comprehensive visit than the “yearly physical” and it is tailored to find patients with “gaps in care”, who are at higher risk for hospitalization because of undetected vulnerabilities. The AWV is essential to have each year, in addition to the “yearly physical”.

Finally, the AWV Report is a written consultation, with summary charts that encapsulates the individual’s current health condition, identifies “gaps in care” and serves as a map for the care going forward. Individuals can share this report with any provider to help inform that provider of their overall health condition.

The best part of the Report is that it is a stimulus for important conversations between the patient and their family doctor. Part of staying healthy is about avoiding the avoidable and preventing the preventable.

Live well and live long. Get your Annual Wellness Visit each year to make sure your back is covered and your vulnerabilities are addressed.

Jeffrey E. Epstein, MD is the Medical Director of Peak Annual Wellness Center in Lakeland Florida. Peak AWC’s mission is to help our seniors stay healthy so they can enjoy a high-quality life while living long and healthy for as long as possible. The visit is free. No copay or deductible. Peak AWC only does Annual Wellness Visits. We make sure individuals follow up with their primary care physicians to discuss the “gaps in care”.  For more information, go to