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Phoebe Encourages Commitment to Primary Care in the New Year

Albany, GA | December 27, 2022 – If you don’t have a primary care provider you see at least once a year, maybe your New Year’s resolution should be to find one. Studies show adults with primary care are significantly more likely to fill needed prescriptions, get preventive care and receive high-value care such as cancer screenings – all of which lead to better health outcomes and longer lives.

“Primary care providers are trained as generalists.  We diagnose and treat a wide range of illnesses and ailments. We also provide routine checkups and manage chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure,” said Derek Heard, MD, Medical Director of Primary Care for Phoebe Physicians. “We like to really get to know our patients, and, when they come in for an annual visit, we’re able to identify changes in their health and catch issues early.”

That’s especially important for seniors, which is why Medicare offers a free annual wellness exam. Anyone who has had Medicare Part B (medical insurance) for at least a year qualifies for a yearly wellness visit to develop or update a personalized plan to help prevent disease or disability, based on their current health and risk factors.

“A Medicare wellness exam is a little different than a typical physical exam, but it’s a great tool to analyze a patient’s overall health and help them stay healthy. And the best part is, it’s completely free,” Dr. Heard said.

As long as your healthcare provider accepts Medicare insurance (all Phoebe clinics do), Medicare patients do not even have to pay a typical deductible for an annual wellness exam. There would be no charge unless additional testing is done.

During a typical wellness exam, the patient would fill out a questionnaire called a Health Risk Assessment. The visit may include:

  • A review of your medical and family history.
  • A review of your current providers and prescriptions.
  • Height, weight, blood pressure and other routine measurements.
  • Personalized health advice.
  • A list of risk factors and treatment options.
  • A screening schedule for appropriate preventive services.
  • Advance care planning.
  • A cognitive assessment to look for signs of dementia. 

“We strongly encourage all patients with Medicare insurance to take advantage of this annual benefit. If you missed out on your wellness exam in 2022, go ahead and schedule a visit for 2023, so you can get back on track,” Dr. Heard suggested. 

Phoebe has a network of 11 clinics that provide primary care across seven counties. The team includes two dozen physicians and more than a dozen advanced practice providers. Appointments may be scheduled by calling 229-312-MYMD or using the Phoebe Access mobile app. 

“The new year is a great time for all of us to put a renewed focus on our health. We hope everyone who does not have a primary care provider will search for one they feel comfortable with and will make sure, in 2023, they visit that provider and do all they can to maintain good health,” Dr. Heard said. 

Learn more about the Phoebe Primary Care network at