The Affordable Care Act is shifting the healthcare industry toward a managed care model, and a large part of that is preventive care. In light of that, Walgreens (NYSE:WAG) subsidiary Take Care Health Systems is launching a program for Medicare-eligible seniors to participate in preventive visits and annual wellness visits at clinics across the country as a way to improve healthy outcomes and lower avoidable healthcare costs.
Medicare-eligible seniors qualify for these types of preventive and yearly wellness visits at no out-of-pocket costs, but very few are aware of these benefits and only 6.5% of eligible seniors use their Medicare Wellness Visit benefit.
But with emphasis growing on managed and coordinated care, Walgreens is touting its preventive care services that are available in 360 Walgreens locations nationwide.
“A focus on preventive health care and wellness can play an integral role in improving health outcomes and reducing costs,” said Sandra Festa Ryan, MSN, CPNP, FAANP and chief nurse practitioner officer for Take Care Health Systems. “By providing a simple and easy access point, Take Care Health hopes to help more patients gain the full benefit of their Medicare coverage so they can focus on getting and staying well.”
Even seniors living in retirement communities or independent living who are enrolled in Medicare can benefit from these services, and providers may want to take advantage of ways to keep residents healthier, longer—and less expensively.
Companies like Intel-GE Care Innovations and senior living providers like Michigan-based Evangelical Home Ministries have developed programs focused on keeping seniors healthy and preventing sickness, rather than just providing care after a resident has become sick.
“We were routinely seeing more acute, episodic flare-ups of diseases, so we launched our preventive wellness program,” Festa Ryan told SHN. “This service, when you think about healthcare and where we need to focus, is about preventing diseases and complications from them.”
During a screening, seniors fill out a form listing their healthcare history, at which point a nurse performs an exam and gives an individualized plan or recommendations for a particular patient based on their health.
She says that while the senior population is very receptive to coming to the clinics for these types of services, the awareness of the availability of free screenings is low.
“Disease prevention is the number one thing we can do to save billions of healthcare dollars; it represents substantial savings to the healthcare industry and improves quality of life,” says Festa Ryan.
Written by Alyssa Gerace