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Annual wellness visits and care management before and after dialysis initiation.

Wang V, Zepel L, Diamantidis CJ, Smith VA, Scholle SH, Maciejewski ML. Annual wellness visits and care management before and after dialysis initiation. BMC nephrology. 2021 May 5; 22(1):164.

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INTRODUCTION: Demands of dialysis regimens may pose challenges for primary care provider (PCP) engagement and timely preventive care. This is especially the case for patients initiating dialysis adjusting to new logistical challenges and management of symptoms and existing comorbid conditions. Since 2011, Medicare has provided coverage for annual wellness visits (AWV), which are primarily conducted by PCPs and may be useful for older adults undergoing dialysis. METHODS: We used the OptumLabs® Data Warehouse to identify a cohort of 1,794 Medicare Advantage (MA) enrollees initiating dialysis in 2014-2017 and examined whether MA enrollees (1) were seen by a PCP during an outpatient visit and (2) received an AWV in the year following dialysis initiation. RESULTS: In the year after initiating dialysis, 93 % of MA enrollees had an outpatient PCP visit but only 24 % received an annual wellness visit. MA enrollees were less likely to see a PCP if they had Charlson comorbidity scores between 0 and 5 than those with scores 6-9 (odds ratio (OR) = 0.59, 95 % CI: 0.37-0.95), but more likely if seen by a nephrologist (OR = 1.60, 95 % CI: 1.01-2.52) or a PCP (OR = 15.65, 95 % CI: 9.26-26.46) prior to initiation. Following dialysis initiation, 24 % of MA enrollees had an AWV. Hispanic MA enrollees were less likely (OR = 0.57, 95 % CI: 0.39-0.84) to have an AWV than White MA enrollees, but enrollees were more likely if they initiated peritoneal dialysis (OR = 1.54, 95 % CI: 1.07-2.23) or had an AWV in the year before dialysis initiation (OR = 4.96, 95 % CI: 3.88-6.34). CONCLUSIONS: AWVs are provided at low rates to MA enrollees initiating dialysis, particularly Hispanic enrollees, and represent a missed opportunity for better care management for patients with ESKD. Increasing patient awareness and provider provision of AWV use among dialysis patients may be needed, to realize better preventive care for dialysis patients.

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