PRACTICE PEARLS

 

Fam Pract Manag. 2019 May-June;26(3):32.

CREATE ANNUAL VISIT PLANS FOR YOUR PATIENTS

To improve efficiency and clarify visit expectations, we have started creating an annual visit plan with each patient. We explain that each medication a patient takes and each related condition should be evaluated at least once a year, and sometimes more. In mapping out visits, we group together chronic illnesses, preventive care exams, and so on. Each annual visit plan reflects the individual patient's needs and the physician's style, but here's an example:

ANNUAL VISIT PLAN

  • Hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia: once every six months with labs

  • Asthma and allergies: once a year

  • Physical exam: as needed, but at least once every two years

  • Annual wellness visit (for Medicare patients): once a year

  • Insomnia, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and gout: once a year

We tell patients that this plan assumes their conditions are stable and well-controlled and that, if they develop any additional complaints or new needs, they should schedule a separate appointment.

Physicians typically do this kind of planning internally, but we have rarely made it transparent for the patient and our staff. We give the patient a copy of this plan and put an alert on the chart so the patient knows what to expect at visits and team members can help schedule visits ahead of time. This planning saves the clinician from having to think through these issues at each visit. It also helps with certain types of scheduling. For instance, we can suggest the asthma visit be scheduled in October so the patient can receive a flu vaccine at the same time.

USE YOUR EHR TO CLOSE CARE GAPS

One of our family medicine clinics recently completed a project to improve the rate of pneumonia vaccination among its patient panel. The practice has approximately 1,500 eligible patients, and even with all the attention physicians and staff

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Practice Pearls presents readers' advice on practice operations and patient care, along with tips drawn from the literature. Send us your best pearl (250 words of less), and you'll earn $50 if we publish it. We also welcome questions for our Q&A section. Send pearls, questions, and comments to fpmedit@aafp.org, or add your comments below.

 
 

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