Visit Frequency: How much is too much?

When the average person is asked how frequently they visit their primary care physician, the typical answer is once a year, if that. While an annual checkup is important, it is also notable that as one ages into Medicare and beyond, the probability of a chronic condition developing increases to 70%. The best way to manage those chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and chronic heart failure, is to increase frequency to the primary care physician for shorter, but more regular visits. A quarterly visit is recommended for those patients with chronic conditions so that concerns can be addressed, medications can be adjusted, and to ensure the care plan is being followed.

Physicians know that they need to increase visit frequency for Medicare beneficiaries in the value-based world. However, the next problem arises, which is, how am I supposed to fit all these patients into my schedule? The answer can be found in the Medicare beneficiary list of benefits: chronic condition management (CCM). The physician, along with his or her team, must understand the needs of their patients in order to group them by in-office visit priority and then use CCM for telephonic outreach.

This inherent understanding of the patients’ needs creates a concierge-type of care that increases overall patient satisfaction and value while maintaining a proper amount of patients seen each day. As long as the physician explains to the patient how helpful it can be to their overall care to have telephonic visits in between office visits, the patient will become more engaged. The endorsement by the physician is the key to successful implementation.

The ability for the physician to decipher patient priority and method of care is one that comes with great experience and population health knowledge, but with the right team of other health professionals, administrators, and care coordinators the path to value-based medicine becomes feasible. There doesn’t seem to be a magical number of appropriate visits for all patients, but when this type of scheduling and visit type becomes a part of the day-to-day operations, both the doctors and patients will have smiles on their faces.

Amy Kotch

About the Author

Amy Kotch, MHA

Amy Kotch is Salient’s Lead Business Consultant working with ACOs nationwide. She received a masters in health administration from Florida Atlantic University as well as a bachelors of science from the University of Miami and has just recently completed a master certification in population health through a federal grant from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in conjunction with the Johns Hopkins University and Normandale Community College. Her prior work includes being the operations coordinator at Triple Aim Development Group consulting with ACOs/MSOs.

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