Posted on April 04, 2018
CCHC Ranks #1 in the Country in Quality– Preventive Health Domain – Helping our Patients Lead Healthier Lives
CCHC is proud of the transformational work taking place in our practices with a focus on delivering excellent care to the communities we serve. CCHC, as part of an MSSP ACO, has chosen to be accountable to Medicare for the quality it provides to the program’s beneficiaries. To measure quality performance, Medicare uses four domains. Last month our article focused on the patient safety and care coordination domain, and this month we are focusing on the Preventive Health domain.
This domain includes measures related to how frequently our patients are receiving screening and preventive services such as breast and colon cancer screening, and influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations. CCHC is proud that we are ranked #1 in the country for cancer screenings.
Preventive care could save your life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seven out of 10 U.S. deaths are caused by chronic disease, many of which are preventable. Preventive health screenings and primary care consultations have also been found to significantly increase life expectancy.
Preventive care offered by Coastal Carolina Health Care (CCHC) can help eliminate avoidable hospitalizations by the promotion of preventive care services. These services can greatly improve the health of millions of Americans while also reducing healthcare costs.
Medicare Updates Benefit All
For more than 40 years, Medicare has provided seniors and those with disabilities health coverage. In the past, Medicare focused on treating beneficiaries’ conditions and diseases after diagnosis rather than emphasizing preventive care to keep people healthy in the first place.
With changes to healthcare coverage, most preventive services are at little or no cost. Those with Medicare can also take advantage of annual wellness visits which act as a “second set” of eyes to ensure all Medicare patients are up to date on their preventive care. These changes mark a major milestone in Medicare’s efforts to keep beneficiaries healthy instead of just paying for treatment when you’re sick.
What Are Preventive Services?
Preventive services include screenings, vaccinations, and counseling services. Services such as blood tests to check your cholesterol, your annual flu shot, or an appointment to talk to your clinician or other healthcare provider about how to stop smoking. These services can prevent illness or help determine if you’re at risk for certain conditions so you can take the necessary steps to prevent them.
For women, preventive care includes screening for cervical cancer, breast cancer, osteoporosis, and several other conditions. For men, prostate cancer screening is covered by Medicare, but it is also controversial. Recommendations vary, but most now recommend that a discussion about the risks and benefits of screening be held prior to any screening exam. Strong evidence to support screening is lacking, but it is true that since PSA testing, mortality from prostate cancer has decreased to a small extent in the US. This is a very complex subject, and therefore we agree with the consensus that learning about the pros and cons is important to making a shared, informed decision.
Eating healthy, exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco, and receiving preventive services are just a few examples of ways to stay healthy. The right preventive care at every stage of life keeps you healthy, can delay or eliminate the onset of disease, can help you lead a productive life—all while keeping your costs low.
Starting the Journey
Your “Welcome to Medicare” physical exam is a one-time, preventive physical exam Medicare covers within the first 12 months you have Medicare Part B. The visit will include a review of your health, in addition to education and counseling about the preventive services you need, like certain screenings, shots, and referrals for other care.
This visit is the best way to get up-to-date on important screenings and shots and to tell your clinician about your family history. During this visit, your clinician will record and/or your medical history and check your blood pressure, and weight and height to measure your body mass index (BMI).
As part of the visit, your clinician will check to see if you’re up-to-date with preventive screenings and services, such as cancer screenings and immunizations. Further tests may be ordered, if necessary, depending on your personal health and medical history. Your clinician will also offer advice to help you prevent disease, improve your health, and stay well.
If you’ve had Medicare Part B for over 12 months, you can get a yearly wellness visit. This visit is also covered and can help you and your clinician develop a personalized health plan.
Medicare.gov suggests you bring the following to your wellness visit:
- Medical records, including immunization records.
- A list of prescription drugs, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements you currently take, how often you take them, and why.
- Family health history. Try to learn as much as you can about your family’s health history before your appointment.
- Any information you can give your clinician to help determine if you’re at risk for certain diseases.
Preventive Care for Seniors (65 and Older)
After the age of 65, women may be required to visit the clinician more frequently to monitor and address physical and mental conditions due to aging. Some of these concerns include:
- Osteoporosis: Women who are not at high-risk of osteoporosis should still receive a bone mineral density test at the age of 65.
- Breast exam: Women between the ages of 65 and 74 should continue to receive mammograms every two years. At the age of 75, female patients should consult their clinician to determine whether or not future breast exams are needed.
- Colorectal screening: Women should continue to receive regular colorectal exams until the age of 75, at which time they should consult with a clinician to determine if future screenings are needed.
- Vaccines: Women 65 or older should receive a pneumococcal (pneumonia) immunization if they have not done so already.
Men 65 and older are especially vulnerable to diseases and physical conditions, and as a result, this age group will probably require more frequent clinician visits than their younger counterparts. Elderly men should discuss the following medical issues with their physicians:
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm: This condition develops when the aorta swells and begins to balloon, which can lead to an aortic tear (fatal more than 20% of the time). Men between the ages of 65 and 75 are much more vulnerable to an abdominal aortic aneurysm than women.
- Vaccines: Any male over the age of 65 should consider obtaining a pneumonia immunization if they have not done so already.
- Colorectal screening: Men should continue to receive regular colorectal exams until the age of 75, at which time they should consult with a clinician to determine if future screenings are needed.
These improved preventive benefits are no small thing…each service can help you take control of your health Take full advantage of preventive services because it could mean the difference between sickness and health and, in some cases, between life and death.
Coastal Carolina Health Care (CCHC) offers primary care services with offices located in New Bern and Pamlico County. CCHC is physician owned and operated and always welcomes new patients. Call our Patient Information Line today at (252) 633-4111 or visit www.cchchealthcare.com.
(Sources: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; HealthCare.gov; PR Newswire; Families USA; eHealthInsurance Services, Inc.; PublicHealth.org; and Medical Mutual.)