A growing patient population and burdens of physician shortage require specialists and primary care collaborate more and more.
The modern healthcare team, even across specialties, is now burdened with physician shortage. And in the case of allergy, it also faces a growing patient population. So what can primary care-trained physicians do to play a bigger part?
In an interview with MD Magazine® while at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) 2019 Scientific Meeting in Houston, David Boone, chief executive officer of the United Allergy Services team, discussed how primary care has adapted to an evolving field of care such as allergy, and what his team is doing to ensure that growth continues.
MD Mag: Have advancing immunotherapies resulted in allergists treating more aggressively?
Boone: Well I think there's a couple things going on. One is, I think allergies are becoming much more prevalent. You know, 60 million people have allergies, and it's become a big problem.
It's a lifestyle issue, it's a productivity issue, it's a health issue that leads to a lot of bad complications. And so, I didn't start our company I'm the CEO today, but I'll give our company credit for democratizing allergy treatment by bringing it to the primary care—where once it was just the purview of specialists.
I think as we've gotten more primary care physicians comfortable providing allergy care, we've expanded the market. But at the same time, there's a whole slew of new solutions that have come on the market that either validate the existing immunotherapy solutions, or come up with new nuances: sublingual, tablets, drops, other forms that are highly effective in helping to solve this big health problem we have.
MD Mag: What is the primary care physician’s role in this evolving field?
Boone: I think primary care is such a wonderful field—it’s special in and of itself. Your primary care physician needs to know more about you, and to be able to treat a whole host of things that most specialist couldn’t even dream about.
But the problem is over time—because of the way reimbursements were managed by insurance companies, they push down the primary care. It's been a profession that has not gotten a lot of respect, and it absolutely should get respect because of the great care that primary care provides patients.
So, one of the things we've been able to do is help primary care physicians who may not feel comfortable treating allergy. They know enough about it again. They have very broad backgrounds, but there may be some questions that they have, and that's where our clinical team that we have is able to jump in and provide some support, and help them practice ‘at the top of the license’ in allergy.
And we help them do things they may not be completely comfortable with. But with our medical directors, our medical staff, and clinicians, we can help provide the support they need to take care of patients.