Health and Wellness: Internal Medicine

Why well-care visits with your internist are so important

Screening for diseases, administering immunizations, treating acute and chronic conditions and managing patients with multiple, complex health problems are just some of the ways in which internal medicine specialists (Internists) play a vital role in their patients’ health and wellness. They also work in concert with patients’ other physicians such as specialists, such as surgeons, OB/GYNs, orthopedists, cardiologists and pulmonologists.

For these and many more reasons, regular visits with your Internist are very important for your present health and wellness, and for lessening or preventing future health issues.

Chronic disease management

If you have a chronic disease or other serious health issue, we want you to know that at Westchester Health, we’re here for you, whenever you need us, with advice, medication, referrals, ongoing monitoring and any other support you may need.

To help us stay on top of any changes or developments in your condition, we recommend that you visit your Internal Medicine specialist for regular office visits. During these visits, he/she will check on your progress, look for any changes in your condition, make sure you’re on track with medications and treatment, and possibly adjust your medication.

Immunizations (vaccines)

At Westchester Health, we strongly believe in the importance of immunizations and fully advise them for all of our patients, from infants to seniors. Immunizations are safe, do not cause autism, save millions of lives and greatly reduce the spread of disease.

Immunizations do not worsen chronic health conditions. Actually, for those with diabetes and chronic lung disease, immunizations often lower hospitalizations. To learn more about the importance of immunizations, the CDC has extensive research supporting the need for vaccinations in adults with chronic illnesses.

Even though adult immunizations have eliminated many diseases, it’s still vital that adults (especially seniors) get immunized regularly. Due to weakened immune systems, chronic health conditions and the effects of age, older adults can be still vulnerable to many serious but preventable diseases such as the flu, pertussis and shingles. To know which vaccines are right for you, it’s best to speak with your physician or Internist. He/she will make recommendations based on your age, medical history, lifestyle, travel and occupation, and will administer the proper vaccines and doses.

Why you should get immunized regularly

  1. If you have a chronic condition such as diabetes, lung disease, heart disease or asthma, or have a weakened immune system, you are more likely to develop complications from diseases.
  2. If you are not immunized, you can more easily pass on a serious illness, such as influenza or whooping cough, to a family member, friend or co-worker.
  3. Vaccines help you stay healthy and active. Why miss important events in your life when an immunization could keep you healthy?
  4. There is significant peace of mind in knowing that you are protecting your health and the health of those you love.

CDC Recommended Immunization Schedule for Adults

For a comprehensive schedule of the CDC-recommended immunizations, vaccines and dosages which adults should receive, click here.

Adult Immunization Schedule

Internists help patients manage the following chronic diseases and disorders:

  • ADD/ADHD
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Celiac disease
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood pressure
  • Mental illness
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Smoking cessation
  • Thyroid disease
  • Weight control counseling

Medicare

For our Medicare Patients

Medicare “Welcome Visit”

If you are a new Medicare patient, you are entitled to a one-time “Welcome to Medicare” visit with your doctor.

What to expect during your "Welcome to Medicare" preventive visit

Your doctor will:

  • Record and evaluate your medical and family history, current health conditions, and prescriptions.
  • Check your blood pressure, vision, weight, and height to get a baseline for your care.
  • Make sure you're up-to-date with preventive screenings and services, like cancer screenings and vaccines
  • Order further tests, depending on your general health and medical history.
  • After the visit, your doctor will give you a plan or checklist with free screenings and preventive services that you need.

What to bring to your "Welcome to Medicare" preventive visit

  • Medical records, including immunization records. Even if your current doctor does the visit, gather as much medical information as you can to make sure nothing is missed.
  • Family health history. Try to learn as much as you can about your family's health history before your appointment. The information will help you and your doctor better understand:
  • What screenings you need to get
  • What to watch for in the future
  • Prescription drugs. Bring a list of any prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements that you currently take, how often you take them, and why.

Annual Wellness Visit

If you've had Part B for longer than 12 months, you are entitled to have a yearly wellness visit to develop or update a personalized prevention plan. This plan is designed to help prevent disease and disability based on your current health and risk factors. Please remember, the annual wellness visit is not the same as a physical, and focuses on making sure you have what you need to be healthy.

Pre-Visit Phone Call

About a week before your annual wellness visit appointment, you will receive a phone call from our Medicare Wellness Nurse. She will ask you several questions about your health, called a “Health Risk Assessment”. Even though some of these questions might not seem to have much to do with your health, if is necessary for us to know your living situation so that we can help keep you safe.

Some of the questions will focus on:

  • A review of your medical and family history
  • Developing or updating a list of current providers and prescriptions.
  • Detection of any cognitive impairment.
  • Personalized health advice.
  • A list of risk factors and treatment options for you.
  • A screening schedule (like a checklist) for appropriate preventive services. Get details about coverage for screenings, shots, and other preventive services.
  • Advance care planning

During the actual visit, you and your doctor will discuss items from the questionnaire and make a plan for your care for the next year. You will also receive prescriptions for screening tests and any vaccines you may need.

Who's eligible?

All people with Part B are covered for one annual wellness visit per year.

Your costs in Original Medicare

You pay nothing for the “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit or the yearly “Wellness” visit if your doctor or other qualified health care provider accepts assignment. The Part B deductible doesn’t apply.

However, you may have to pay coinsurance, and the Part B deductible may apply if:

  • Your doctor or other health care provider performs additional tests or services during the same visit.
  • These additional tests or services aren't covered under the preventive benefits.

Note

Your doctor or other health care provider may recommend you get services more often than Medicare covers. Or, they may recommend services that Medicare doesn’t cover. If this happens, you may have to pay some or all of the costs. Ask questions so you understand why your doctor is recommending certain services and whether Medicare will pay for them.

For more information, you can visit the official Medicare website at https://www.medicare.gov/

For the highest quality of personalized health and wellness care, please come see us

At Westchester Health, we’re committed to delivering the very highest level of health and wellness care, centered around you. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you. For more information about our wide range of internal medicine services and how they help you achieve your optimal health, click here.