Some days, even Andrew Minigutti, MD, forgets that his practice’s allergy specialist isn’t one of his actual employees. Instead, she is an outside employee working out of Minigutti’s Plano, Texas practice to the benefit of not only the patients, but the doctors as well.
With physicians — especially primary care physicians — suffering from financial woes, many have been turning to ancillary services to improve their bottom lines. The benefit of adding allergy testing and treatment is that allergies are so prevalent. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 50 million Americans suffer from all types of allergies.
Minigutti’s allergy specialist is an employee of United Allergy Services (UAS), who Minigutti’s practice partnered with just over a year ago. Before partnering with the company, the practice was already doing a large amount of allergy testing and allergy referrals.
Having the specialist right in the practice is convenient since the practice’s four doctors can frequently discuss cases with her, talking on a daily basis.
“It also gave our patients the option of staying in house, so to speak, with the primary care doctor,” Minigutti says.
The convenience has been a boon for elderly patients especially. According to Minigutti, their biggest fear isn’t what the specialist will find, but actually going to a new location — figuring out how to get there and where to park.
“Now we just have to say, ‘here’s what I think you need and if you agree, all you have to do is come back here,’” he explains. “And they already know that they can drive here in their sleep, they come here every three months, or whatever it is, to see me anyway and so I just made it more comfortable.”
The transition has been particularly easy for Minigutti, who had past experience with allergy treatment running allergy clinics in the military. Plus, Minigutti’s practice is no stranger to outside specialists, from lab workers to a sports injury recovery specialist.
“We have specialists that come in every week,” he says. “So we’re used to that make up of having someone here that’s not under us that works with us.”
For physicians who are looking at bringing outside specialists in to their practice for the first time, Minigutti recommends that physicians at least hear the proposal from companies like UAS. Offering these services in house could increase patient satisfaction, which Minigutti saw at his practice.
Having specialists right in office means an easy hand off. Once the physicians determine patients who are good candidates for the allergy specialist, they walk the patients back and introduce them to the specialist. The more comfortable the patient is, the easier it is for them to make decisions, Minigutti says.
“The more we can do here, the better it is for the patients, the less cost ultimately it is to do things through your primary care doctor,” Minigutti says.
By Laura Joszt
October 12, 2012