Allergic disease affects nearly 50 million Americans (20% of the population) and this number continues to grow. With the startling numbers of Americans affected by allergic disease, it should not be a shock that allergies are the leading medical related cause of productivity loss for businesses. According to the Harvard Business Review, a 2004 study showed that due to allergic impact, the U.S. loses approximately $150 billion in productivity each year. Many other studies have confirmed the cost of allergy impact and point to an even larger cost.
With employers’ healthcare expenses growing due to ever rising costs, or self-insured companies trying to take control of rising healthcare spending, it is critical for employers to have an allergy control plan.
Recently I interviewed Jeff Kessler, Practice Executive from Allergy Associates of La Crosse, about the impact of allergy in the workplace. I asked about the top five reason employers should take a closer look at allergy, specifically precision SLIT (sublingual immunotherapy) treatment when addressing employee health and health plans.
Mr. Kessler’s response was quite straight forward stating that employers who address allergy have positive effects in multiple areas. These areas include:
- Improving productivity
When patients suffer from allergy, it’s hard for them to be at their best. Many take symptom-relieving medications, many of which are not tolerated well and in some cases are sedating. This puts the employee in a tough spot; if they don’t take meds then they suffer with symptoms. Because many don’t sleep well (especially during their high allergy seasons), they are fatigued and susceptible to infection and illness. Being drowsy on the job can not only impact the level of work (presenteeism), it can impact safety, especially for employees in production roles or transportation jobs.
- Reducing overall healthcare costs
Treating allergic disease at its source leads to a reduced number of sinus, respiratory, and ear infections, all lowering the amount of medication and medical care needed by employees who are living with allergies. Healthcare costs are reduced through the lowering of overall utilization. SLIT treats the cause of allergies leading to a reduced number of unplanned office visits, unexpected urgent care and emergency room visits, related procedures, and reduced medications (plus related side effects) needed to treat allergy symptoms.
- Enhancing quality of life for the employee
SLIT is not only able to treat the cause of allergies, it is also effective in improving quality of life of your employees and their families. Our studies have found that even after a relatively short period of treatment (four months), virtually every quality of life aspect can be positively impacted — this includes areas such as daily activity, sleep, various symptoms, and emotional health.
- Managing and eliminating a major chronic condition
Implementing an allergy control plan that uses SLIT, or sublingual immunotherapy treatment, goes above and beyond treating the symptoms of allergies. Research has found that by altering the progression of allergic disease itself through raising the tolerance to environmental and/or food allergens, diseases such as asthma may not even develop in young children. For adults, this can lead to effectively managing of chronic allergy-related diseases such as asthma, rhinitis, and dermatitis.
- Improving overall employee health
By implementing an allergy control plan, businesses are able to improve the health of the population at large. As a business, placing an emphasis on wider social issues that stem beyond the profit margins of the company is not only a way to create a positive internal impact; it also differentiates your business by making a statement regarding your company values on health and wellness.
The benefits of the employer stem far beyond the employee’s quality of life and have a spillover effect to the community as well as the company’s bottom line. According to Kessler, “Businesses will have a healthier and more productive workforce that will help them be more successful, as well as be more efficient in managing healthcare costs.” This creates a win-win-win situation for businesses that are able to reduce overall healthcare costs while also improving employee productivity and simultaneously improving quality of life for all who use the business’s allergy control plan.
Finally, when I had asked about the specific advantages companies have to gain by using the SLIT method over alternative treatments Kessler stated, “It (SLIT) is relatively straightforward to implement. It is proven effective, safe, and the creators of the La Crosse Method™ Protocol have over 45 years of experience of clinical use. That expertise is shared with providers across the country through Allergychoices, who help providers implement the protocol in their practice. As the developers of the Protocol, we are looked to internationally as an allergy care leader who can help address the broad nature of allergy including environmental and food.”
Physicians trained by Allergychoices, as well as its founders, have already helped more than 195,000 patients. By including this treatment in their healthcare offerings, businesses can optimize healthcare savings while also giving employees the opportunity to live healthier lifestyles through our proven and effective SLIT treatment.
Kessler adds, “We’ve seen employers add this treatment in their health plans because they’ve seen the data of reduced costs and improved outcomes. We’re also starting to see more on-site corporate clinics look at it for employees because it makes good business sense, and contributes to overall healthcare utilization efficiency.” And in this current healthcare environment, those steps can go a long way to improving how healthcare dollars can be better spent.