Telehealth Tackles The Allergy Crisis
February 27, 2018
Allergies and asthma are among those rare health problems that are getting worse, not better, throughout America. Allergic conditions are the most common health issue affecting children in the U.S. About 200,000 people visit the ER each year due to food allergies alone.
According to a new paper from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), telehealth can help curb the staggering cost of treating asthma and allergies in the U.S. The ACAAI estimates that asthma in the U.S. costs about $56 billion in medical visits and lost school/work days, while allergic rhinitis (a/k/a seasonal allergies) costs an additional $5 billion.
It’s truly a crisis that calls for telehealth. The Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America estimates that allergies now affect about 30% of adults and 40% of children. The worst locations for allergies are in underserved regions like rural Mississippi and along the Texas/Mexico border, while asthma rates are the highest in cities like Detroit that are shrinking in size and don’t have enough allergists.
Some locations like Sacramento and Salt Lake City foster relatively few allergies. But nationwide, allergies are now the sixth leading cause of chronic disease. These conditions affect the quality of life for millions of children and adults alike, resulting in poor school or work performance, inability to take part in sports, and more.
Obviously, the skin tests required for immunology require in-person visits, but allergists can easily conduct remote screening to see if that testing is necessary. Telehealth also simplifies routine follow-up visits to see whether a new medication or treatment is achieving desired results.
The two leading asthma/allergy provider organizations have about 13,000 members – and telehealth can greatly expand their reach in underserved communities like Laredo, Texas and inner-city Detroit. No one should have to wheeze, sneeze and feel miserable most of the time when remote allergists can help.