Each year, more than 50 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies, and it’s getting worse. Allergy seasons are growing longer and more intense. Environmental changes are lengthening the growing seasons of common allergenic plants. And the costs of doctor’s office visits, missed time from work or school, and over the counter symptom relievers are compounding the problem.
The standard of allergy treatment for many years has been referral to outside specialists, which adds time and cost and thereby creates additional barriers for many. We can ease the burden on everyday Americans by providing greater access to ancillary services such as allergy care. Under the guidance and in the office of their general practitioner, patients can receive the specialty care they need, when they need it. Furthermore, doctors can expand their practices by providing more holistic care for their patients, greatly improving patient satisfaction and allow them to grow their business.
Seasonal allergies are a nationwide epidemic
Four out of five Americans suffering from allergies use over-the-counter medications, which do nothing to treat the root cause of allergies and provide only symptomatic relief. The only proven long-term solution is immunotherapy, which introduces allergens incrementally and teaches the body to build up resistance. In many cases, patients are guided by their physicians to treat themselves at home over the three-to five-year immunotherapy protocol.
There is a clear need for greater access to allergy testing and immunotherapy
Allergen immunotherapy has been shown through several studies to provide long-term benefits after six months of discontinuation, and patients who receive treatment at home are statistically more likely to complete the process. Not only can long-term relief from allergies drastically improve a person’s quality of life, allergy care also serves as a preventive measure, with childhood allergies directly related to the onset of conditions such as allergic asthma.
The fact is, allergy care is primary care. Access through general practitioners is especially needed in small towns where specialists are often scarce. Within primary care practices, better accessibility will help exponentially more allergy sufferers than can be handled by relatively few specialists. And expanded ancillary services can have a significant impact on the financial health of a primary care doctor’s practice.
Expansion of services means more access to treatment
With traditional treatment, the biggest challenge is ensuring that patients stay consistent. Going to an allergist’s office is inconvenient and time-consuming, especially as visits can number into the hundreds within a few years.
Providing better access to treatment, along with a method for patients to conveniently administer it to themselves, is a game-changer for physicians and patients alike. And technological support aids the process. Apps can help patients stay consistent with their treatments and provide a convenient tool to help make at-home administration of allergy immunotherapy more streamlined.
An increase in demand is inevitable
As more people fall victim to seasonal allergies and other disorders brought on by environmental variables like warmer climates, the healthcare industry must do what it can to keep up with the growing demand for high-quality, convenient care. By finding more ways to integrate specialty services into general practitioners’ offices and allowing patients to take control of their own health at home, the healthcare industry can provide agency and life-changing care to those who need it most.
David Boone is the CEO of United Allergy Services, the nation’s largest allergy testing and at-home immunotherapy service provider.