To evaluate the relationship between receipt of annual physicals and the receipt of provider recommendation for preventive services, during a period when Medicare did not cover annual physicals (before 2011).
Electronic medical records of patients aged 65 years and older from a US health care system were extracted for the 2001 to 2007 period. A fixed‐effects logistic model was used to assess the relationship between receipt of periodic health examination (PHE) and receipt of provider recommendation for mammogram screening for 6466 female Medicare beneficiaries. Logistic regression models were used to assess the relationship between receipt of PHE and receipt of provider recommendation for colonoscopy screening and pneumococcal vaccination for 10 318 Medicare beneficiaries. Nine primary care providers from the network were also interviewed, selected by random sampling stratified by care model.
Electronic medical record analyses suggest that patients with a PHE were more likely to obtain provider recommendations for mammogram screening (OR = 2.17, P < 0.0001), colonoscopy screening (OR = 1.54, P < 0.0001), and pneumococcal vaccination (OR = 1.10, P < 0.0001). Providers suggested that prevention care quality improves with the PHE because certain screening measures (eg, skin cancer screening, breast exam) would be neglected without it, and healthy patients could miss recommended preventive services entirely. Without the PHE, some providers reported having tried to incorporate discussions of preventive services by scheduling more frequent follow‐up chronic care visits than they would have otherwise, and some routinely charged Medicare for a more complex follow‐up visit than they would have charged without the preventive service discussions.
Periodic health examination is important in connecting patients to recommended preventive services. Provider interviews suggested that, indirectly, Medicare ended up paying for the PHE via greater frequency of follow‐up visits or higher visit charges from providers integrating the services with other visits.
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