Primary Care Doctors Help Fill Allergist Shortage

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has predicted a shortage in qualified allergists in the next decade even as allergies increase. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracked a 50 percent rise in children’s food allergies between 1997 and 2011. Reports of inhalant allergies in the general population continue to increase as well.

Primary Care Doctors Help Fill Allergist Shortage

(Pixabay / Alterfines)

With the number of allergy specialists dwindling, primary care physicians are filling the void by testing and treating their allergic patients in-office. About 20 percent of the population has allergies, so if a doctor sees 20 patients per day, four of those patients will likely suffer from allergy symptoms. When family care doctors and pediatricians can test and treat their allergic patients, they can increase their medical practice revenue, better meet their patients’ needs, and maintain continuity of care.

Allergy Testing

Primary care physicians can order a turnkey allergy test program and begin diagnosing their allergic patients. While there are different types of allergy test kits to order, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology affirms that skin scratch testing is the most accurate. A skin scratch test can be administered with a multi-pronged testing device that deposits different allergen extracts under the top layers of skin. A technician can then measure the resulting skin bumps (or wheals) that develop as a manifestation of allergic sensitivities. A technician can perform the test in less than 30 minutes per patient.

Physicians can order food allergy test kits, inhalant allergy test kits or a combination of the two. They can also order individual wholesale allergen extracts, but it is often more convenient to work with a ready-made kit. The test kits can determine patients’ sensitivities to pollen, dust, mold, animal dander, and dozens of foods.

Allergy Treatment

By examining a patient’s test results as well as their symptoms and medical history, physicians can determine the severity of a patients’ allergies. They can then prescribe sublingual immunotherapy (allergy drops) or subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). Both have the same goal: to desensitize allergy sufferers to the allergens that make them miserable.

Both types of immunotherapy begin with a “serum” containing allergen extracts mixed into a saline solution. With allergy drops, the allergen extracts are dispensed under the tongue as liquid drops that absorb into the bloodstream through specialized oral cells. With shots, the extracts are injected into the top layers of skin where they are assimilated into the blood flow.

Technicians can learn to mix the allergy serum in office or doctors can simply order their patients’ serum from a compounding pharmacy.

Allergy treatment can reduce many symptoms, including eczema, hives, asthma, wheezing, chronic cough, ear and sinus infections, itchy eyes, head pain, and fatigue. Food allergy treatment can address additional problems, including abdominal cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, or nausea. Allergy shots don’t work well for food allergies, but allergy drops do. They can provide eosinophilic esophagitis treatment to help stem an increasingly common reflux-like disease linked to food allergies.

AllergyEasy makes it easy for doctors to test and treat their patients using sublingual immunotherapy (allergy drops). Allergy drops are safer than shots, allowing patients to administer treatment at home (instead of at the doctor’s office). Patients love the convenience and fast results from the daily drops.

AllergyEasy provides clinical training, patient referrals, marketing materials, patient forms and more. A clinic can be up and running with the AllergyEasy turnkey allergy testing and treatment program in a matter of hours. Rather than sending a growing number of allergic patients out the door, primary care physicians can now offer them the care that they need.

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.