Monday, August 01, 2011

Is the Annual Wellness Visit Program a Farce?

Jane M. Orient, M.D.—Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons—recently sent an e-mail titled “The Medicare ‘Wellness Farce’ that ridicules the value of Medicare’s annual wellness visit (AWV) program. This is a healthcare reform program of the Federal government’s Affordable Care Act, which is meant to cut healthcare costs by promoting good health. While she believes it is likely to control spending somwhat, she conjectures that the “well care” is not a good thing for people who are ill because it will take money away from their “sick care” they need. Here closing sarcastic statement was: “It is much better for society to keep healthy people healthy than to lavish resources on keeping sick people alive. Isn’t it?

My response to that last comment is this: Keeping healthy people healthy AND keeping sick people alive are BOTH good for society. However, lavishing resources on keeping sick people alive insinuates uncontrolled spending since the word lavishing could mean extravagance and excessiveness.

A much better statement, therefore, would be: It is equally important to society to keep healthy people healthy as long as possible, as well as helping sick people manage or overcome their health problems, while wisely/prudently/judiciously distributing our limited resources. This statement implies the need to focus on two things largely absent from in our current healthcare system

1. It is crucial that the patient/consumer gets true value for the care received. That is, care cost-effectiveness must be the primary factor in determining how to spend our healthcare dollars.

2. A whole-person integrated care approach is the most rational way to go. This model does two things: It (i) brings together well-care and sick-care and (ii) focuses on improving a person's health and wellbeing by addressing one's physical health (body), mental/psychological health (mind), and the mind-body connection ("holistic" health). In other words, it views an individual as a whole entity, whose body, emotions, thoughts (e.g., attitudes and expectations) and behaviors are interconnected. See this link for more: http://curinghealthcare.blogspot.com/2008/02/patient-centered-life-cycle-value-chain.html
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