In this week's installment of revenue sources for your medical practice, I want to introduce to you different ways of thinking about testing and treating your patients for their seasonal allergies. The results for your patients and bottom line are nothing to sneeze at.
There are essentially four main options for testing and/or treating your patients for seasonal allergies:
1. Treat patients with an over-the-counter (OTC) prescription medication. OTC and prescription medications are effective at masking the symptoms for patients suffering from seasonal allergies. Staying on these medications can cost a patient $30 or so dollars a month. Your potential revenue is essentially the same as any other new or established patient visit. You may or may not need to see the patient for a follow-up visit.
2. Send your patient to an allergist. This is an important option for patients that have severe allergies or a history of anaphylaxis, but you may not want it to be your only option. Patients appreciated the ability to receive testing and treatment without the hassle of scheduling another appointment when appropriate. Often times my clients' patients complain of their area being underserved by allergists, which leads to long lead times for appointments. My clients often complain that their patients, after beginning to see allergists, start to see those allergists for many ailments that could have easily been treated in the clients' offices. Your clinic’s potential revenue is essentially the same as any other new or established patient visit, but any subsequent follow-ups will be the allergist's.
3. Test for allergies and provide sublingual immunotherapy treatment. This is a viable option and is gaining popularity for the treatment of allergies. As the effectiveness becomes more widely known, I expect this to become an FDA approved option. Sublingual immunotherapy is a cash-only option. Insurance does not cover the use of sublingual drops, so this can limit your reach to your patients. The testing is covered, but the ongoing treatment can cost a patient a significant amount out of pocket. Your practice can expect to receive revenue from the new or established patient visit. You may also either bill the patient directly or the insurance company for the allergy test depending on the method you choose. You may or may not bill for follow-up appointments. You can also expect to recoup any markup on the sublingual drops themselves.
4. Test for allergies and provide subcutaneous immunotherapy treatment. This is possible by partnering with an organization such as United Allergy Services. You can read about them in my review last year here. Partnering with UAS provides a fully staffed and operational allergy center that integrates with your clinic. UAS is "incident-to physician," ensuring that you, the physician, provides direct personal supervision of the allergy testing and immunotherapy. This process guarantees that you are fully overseeing your patient’s treatment. Patients are tested in office and treated with a custom mixed immunotherapy treatment.
Immunotherapy is still the only clinically proven effective treatment of seasonal allergies. As of September of this year, more than 2,440 practitioners have gained access to United Allergy Services, and more than 101,000 patients have tested positive for seasonal allergies and received their customized immunotherapy treatments from providers contracted with UAS.
Your revenue can vary with this method, although it will be significantly more than the other options. You can expect to earn revenue for a new or established patient visits and any follow-up visits required. In addition, this method of testing and treatment is covered by most commercial insurance, Medicaid plans, and Medicare, and reimbursement can vary.
Treating your patient’s seasonal allergies is inevitable. Make the decision to utilize a service such as United Allergy Services and you can improve their quality of life, increase your patient satisfaction, increase your patient retention and improve your bottom line.
By Audrey "Christie" McLaughlin, RN
October 17, 2013