As you may be aware, Medicare now provides coverage for an ‘‘Annual Wellness Visit” in addition to the one-time “Welcome to Medicare Physical Exam”.
As primary care physicians and practitioners, we know the cornerstone to your health is prevention. This new benefit is designed to focus you and your provider on plans for prevention and wellness. We believe this service will be valuable to you and we encourage you to learn about it.
There are specific Medicare guidelines for the new Annual Wellness Visit, and it is not what most people commonly think of as a yearly “physical exam”. It is not a “HANDS ON” exam. Rather, it is a Review of Your Health, plus Education and Counseling about preventive services. This visit is designed to focus on health promotion and prevention planning. Because of this, it is difficult to address new or chronic conditions during this visit so your provider may ask you to schedule a separate visit to appropriately address those issues.
At the Annual Wellness Visit, your provider will work with you to create a personalized plan to help keep you at your best health over the next few years. To do this, your medical history will be updated, including a list of all your other health care providers. Your blood pressure, height and weight measurements will be taken, and there will be a screening for conditions related to cognitive impairments, depression, and functional status. To prepare for this, you should bring the following with you:
- A list of your medicines and allergies
- A list of your medical conditions and surgeries
- A list of any of your other health care providers
This information will help us guide your healthcare and provide you advice designed to improve your overall health.
As always, we appreciate the trust you put in us to take care of all of your healthcare needs and hope that you will take advantage of this new benefit. If you would like to schedule an appointment, for any reason, please call the office location where you visit your provider.
Although the barriers for our children and adults to get immunized differ, most would agree that thousands of lives could be saved each year if we can increase the number of adults who receive routine immunizations. One third of adults ages 65 years and older did not receive the pneumonia vaccine. Annually 36,000 Americans die of the flu and 5,000 die of pneumonia.
That is the health care system is not set up to deliver preventative services and many adults don’t have regular check-ups. Many physicians who only care for adults are not accustomed to providing vaccines in their office. Primary care physicians are more likely to immunize their patients versus other providers yet many adults only receive medical care from specialists.
The key barriers for children immunizations are related to the time it takes for insurance companies to cover immunizations once it has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. At times, Vaccines for Children program will need 6 month after a vaccine is covered by the CDC before it is available at the physician office. In addition, private insurers will often take longer and not all insurance companies will come on board at the same time, which may cause confusion for physicians.
Physicians may also hold back from giving a new vaccine because they don’t know if a particular insurer is covering the vaccine in question. And at time vaccines are administered and not get covered by insurance or when they are covered the insurance company will cover a cheaper vaccine. Typically, physicians must negotiate and enter into collaborative agreements with manufacturers in order to obtain vaccines at competitive prices just so that the vaccines they administer can be break even with insurance payments.
As part of your care you may encourage your primary care provider’s office to review your immunization history. Patients may also schedule physicals and be informed regarding their insurer’s coverage for physicals and immunizations.
As a Family oriented provider I am often giving advice to new parents in regards to their children and as we begin the summer writing about infants seems appropriate.
Parents and health professionals must partner for a healthy baby. This is a time of exciting physical and emotional growth. Your baby will triple in weight, grow many inches, and learn how to sit and stand. Emotionally he/she will develop bonds of love and trust with people around. The way you nurture now lays the foundation for a self-confident active toddler.
Your baby’s health professional are your partners in keeping your infant healthy. Health professionals know about child health care, growth, and development. You have the day to day experience that makes you an expert on your baby. You are the best person to make sure your baby gets the kinds of care he/she needs.
Social Development: Encourage your baby to feel good about him/her self through praise, spending time together, talking, singing.
Encourage good feelings: do things together as a family, encourage older siblings to spend time with the baby, and family members to show affection to the baby and each other. Encourage your baby to enjoy other people, find safe, fun ways for the baby to spend time with other adults. Think about a parent baby play group. Here are some local playgroup options: Link Here
Eating: Breast milk is best for new baby. It is easy to digest and has just the right nutrients. If you choose to bottle feed, be sure to feed formula that is iron fortified. Hold baby partly sitting when bottle feeding. Do not warm bottles in the microwave and stop feeding the baby when s/he seems full.
Oral Health: Even before the baby’s first tooth appears you can clean gums by gently wiping them after each feeding with a clean damp washcloth. After teeth appear clean them with a soft infant toothbrush with just water.
Physical Activity: Help your baby to be active by playing and finding ways to rock, bounce and sway gently. Never shake a baby as that may cause serious injury. Help the baby play with toys. Choose games that encourage movement rather than sitting and watching. Watch your baby learn to crawl and walk.
Child Care and learning: Choose your child care carefully by planning ahead. Choose a child care provider that will give the baby the loving attention they need and want and pick babysitters you trust. Here are some tips (link here) on how to find a good childcare provider.
There’s no such thing as a healthy tan, because you can’t get tanned without damaging your skin. That damage is what makes you more likely to get skin cancer as you grow older. Between 1970 and 2009 melanoma increased eight fold among women ages 18 to 39 and four fold in men.
The rising cancer rate is being driven by the use of indoor tanning beds. Ultraviolet radiation is a known carcinogen. Indoor tanning is particularly dangerous because tanning beds emit 10 to 15 times more UV radiation than the midday sun. There are regulations that aim at preventing youths from indoor tanning, such as requiring a parents’ consent for teens younger than 18.
The patient can play a primary role in early detection of melanoma. During your annual exam ask your doctor to look at your back for suspicious marks. Doctors should inform the patient of their risk factors to skin cancer.
Some of those factors include:
- Family history of melanoma
- Using tanning beds
- Having fair skin, light hair, and eyes
- Burning easily
Such conversations are particularly important for families of young children to help them establish health behavior early in life. People who plan on spending time in the sun should wear a broad spectrum water resistant sun screen with a sun protection factor of 30 or more. Also, limiting time in the sun especially during midday when UV rays are strongest and most harmful. Among women cancer is most commonly found on lower extremities. For men, melanoma is most commonly found on the back and legs.
Summer is approaching, so make sure you and your entire family are wearing sun screen. Prevention is the key!
~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed, MD
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