For Primary Care Physicians: Could I be Doing More for my Allergic Patients?

If your primary care practice is like others in America, roughly 20 percent of your patients suffer from allergies. These may be allergies to pollen, dust, mold, pet dander, or food. Regardless, you know what it’s like to want to help these patients—and not just through temporary, stopgap measures.

Primary Care Physicians can help Allergic patients

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Medications

Medications, including antihistamines, are good places to start for treating allergic patients. They can take the edge off of seasonal allergies by stifling symptoms. If patients have short bursts of allergies, antihistamines or decongestants may be all that are needed to get them through. However, medications have their limitations. They can have side effects and are usually only partially effective in relieving symptoms. And they don’t provide lasting relief; once patients stop taking their meds, the symptoms come right back.

Allergy Immunotherapy

Another option is to refer patients out for allergy shots. For patients who suffer from allergies for more than just a few months of the year, or whose allergies are severe enough to cut deeply into their enjoyment of life, allergy immunotherapy makes the most sense. It can take several months for the shots to start desensitizing the body, but the results are long-lasting. Once the body becomes desensitized to trigger allergens, it can stop reacting to them once and for all instead of depending on pills to get through each new allergy season.

Can I Treat my Patients In-house?

If a patient opts for allergy immunotherapy, you can refer them to an allergist, but then you lose continuity of care. And patients can end up driving across town a couple times a week for allergy shots, which can eat up their time. Another option is to treat your patients in-house with a turnkey allergy treatment program.

You can order a program that comes complete with an allergy test kit for easy administration of allergy skin testing. You can then prescribe sublingual immunotherapy, an alternative to allergy shots, that doesn’t require patients to get injections under direct medical supervision. Sublingual immunotherapy allergy drops are comparable to allergy shots, but they are safer and can be administered at home with a few drops under the tongue once per day. The drops absorb into the bloodstream through special cells in the mouth, facilitating desensitization to common allergens.

A turnkey allergy treatment program is simple to incorporate and administer, with minimal time and staff requirements. Many physicians find it to be a high-demand ancillary service that makes for happy patients and also markedly increases the profits of their medical practice.

A Medscape Business Magazine study shows that greater than 65 percent of patients would rather receive allergy treatment from their primary care doctor than from an outside allergist. If you’re looking to help your patients while helping your bottom line, an allergy treatment program may be a smart addition for your medical practice.

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.