Newport News, VA – John A. Hartford foundation released a study April 24th 2012 focusing on older Americans experiencing a significant and troubling gap in Primary Care use. In 2011 Riverside has been able to see 9% of its Medicare population for a Medicare Annual Wellness visits compared to the 6.5% national average in the study. (In fact, the self-reported number may be overstated, as Medicare's records suggest that uptake is only 6.5 percent.)

Dr. Kyle Allen, Medical Director Geriatric Medicine  and Lifelong Health, Riverside Health System bases Riverside's success on the "long term commitment the health system and physicians have had  to partner with and improve the quality of life and well being for older adults. Riverside is also making a concerted effort to get Medicare beneficiaries to understand the value of an annual wellness exam. 
"Physicians at Riverside are dedicated to improve the older adult's health and quality of life" Dr Kyle Allen stated "and "are working to notify and remind our older patients about this new Medicare wellness benefit".

The national survey ‘How Does It Feel?' The Older Adult Health Care Experience findings were based on a poll exclusively on Americans age 65 and older which assessed whether, in the past 12 months, patients received seven important medical services to support healthy aging, including:

  • an annual medication review,
  • a falls risk assessment and history,
  • depression screening,
  • referral to community-based health resources, and
  • discussion of their ability to perform routine daily tasks and activities without help.

This type of low-cost, low-tech focus on older adult care supports a healthy aging process by managing and lowering individuals' risk of a number of preventable health problems that can be serious enough to erode quality of life, increase health care costs, cause disability, and even lead to premature death. Yet only a tiny number (7%) of older adults surveyed received all seven recommended services, which represent critical elements of a geriatric assessment. Fifty-two percent report receiving none or only one, and large majorities (76%) received fewer than half.

For a complete list of findings from the poll, please visit

Medicare's Annual Wellness Visit: The benefit nobody knows

Since January 2011, Medicare has offered a benefit specifically designed to promote these healthy aging interventions, the Annual Wellness Visit (AWV), which is free for patients (no co-pays or deductibles) and pays doctors nearly three times as much as an average office visit. Unfortunately, 68 percent of older adults surveyed had not heard of the benefit or were not sure if they had heard of it, and only 17 percent said that they had received their Annual Wellness visit. (In fact, the self-reported number may be overstated, as Medicare's records suggest that uptake is only 6.5 percent.)

Riverside's Lifelong Health and Aging Related Services is one of the largest providers of services for Older Adults in the mid Atlantic. Our full continuum of services keeps the older adult in control of their future as they age, in the place of their choosing. Our unmatched team of physicians- led by Dr. Kyle Allen, one of the nation's leading geriatric physicians- is dedicated to serving older adults with understanding and compassion for the unique challenges of aging. They always treat the whole person by acknowledging chronic medical issues, not just the day's episodic illness.

Dr. Kyle Allen is an expert in the field of Geriatric Medicine and the care of the older adult.  He is a graduate of the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his fellowship in geriatric medicine at the University of Cincinnati.  He is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM), and holds a CAQ in geriatric medicine from the ABFM.  Dr. Allen is a frequent speaker on national panels and is an author. 


Published: April 26, 2012