Allergy Testing, Immunotherapy Boost Medical Practice and its Patients

Allergy immunotherapy has helped the patients and the practice of Dr. Stephen Sisselman, of Sisselman Medical Group in New York.

Allergy immunotherapy has helped the patients and the practice of Dr. Stephen Sisselman, of Sisselman Medical Group in New York.

This post, from guest blogger Dr. Stephen Sisselman, looks at allergy testing and treatment from the general practitioner’s point of view

Sara V is a patient I’ve known for a long time. She comes in every few months with assorted respiratory complaints including runny nose, cough, congestion and excessive mucus production. I typically tell her she has rhinitis and that antibiotics are ineffective. Nevertheless, she usually requests an antibiotic. Recently, we began offering allergy testing at my office so I told Sara that I wanted to test her to see if allergies might be the cause for her respiratory complaints.

I started allergy testing as a way to offer more services to my patients and enhance the ancillary testing in my practice. It takes just five minutes to prep a patient and about five more to complete the test. In another 15 minutes the test results are ready to read. About half the patients we test each week show significant allergies to trees, weeds, molds, grasses or other environmental allergens. Patients love the idea of in-office testing where they get immediate results and don’t have to schlep to an allergist.

Getting back to Sara V… I thought that maybe seasonal allergies play a role in her frequent respiratory complaints. I performed an allergy test and we were both surprised by her results; she was positive for trees, weeds, grasses and indoor perennials such as dust mites. After a discussion of appropriate therapy, she decided that allergy shots — subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) —were the best choice for her. Now, three months into the program, she already has fewer symptoms and respiratory complaints. And Sara is just one of many of my patients now experiencing a greater quality of life.

Sara chose allergy shots but those aren’t the only treatment option. I help patients with positive test results choose the treatment that’s right for them. Some prefer oral antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays. Others, like Sara, choose immunotherapy because it doesn’t just cover up symptoms, it trains the body to ignore the allergens that trigger the symptoms.

I administer allergy shots in my office. Based on insurance coverage, patients may have just a small copay, or none at all. Some patients prefer the freedom of treating themselves with immunotherapy at home. For them, we offer sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), also known as allergy drops. SLIT drops from AllerVision are customized to the patient based on the results of their allergy test. The patients simply place three drops under their tongue and hold them there for three minutes each day. Drops usually cost about $70/month. They’re not covered by insurance but for those who choose them, the convenience easily outweighs the cost. Both shots and drops start working within a few weeks to a few months and treatment is complete in four years.

The allergy program has been a great addition to my practice. I enjoy the increased reimbursements for allergy testing and shots administration while my patients love the convenience of getting needed testing and treatment in my office. My staff also loves the program because it’s easy and we can better diagnose and treat patients with frequent or chronic upper respiratory complaints. It’s a win-win for everybody.

Stephen G. Sisselman, D.O., F.A.C.P.

Dr. Stephen Sisselman is Board Certified in Internal Medicine. His practice, Sisselman Medical Group, in Massapequa NY and Commack, NY cares for patients ages 12 and up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s