Navigating Challenges in Immunotherapy: Strategies for Success

    Posted by Delta Letigio

    Did you know that in the United States alone, more than 100 million people suffer from some type of allergy every year?

    According to the National Center for Health Statistics, nearly 1 in 3 adults and more than 1 in 4 children suffer from some form of allergy. No wonder U.S. allergists are seeing an uptick in patients seeking long-term solutions like immunotherapy. 

    However, alongside these promising trends, allergists like you face various challenges that impact how you deliver care. If you aim to provide the highest standard of healthcare, you need two things: tried-and-tested strategies to navigate the challenges of immunotherapy and the time-tested electronic health record (EHR) technology to support them.

    IMS’s allergy-specific EHR system, AllergyEHR, is an excellent choice for growing allergy practices. Voted one of 2024's best allergy EHR systems by Black Book Market Research, AllergyEHR is specially designed with allergy and immunology workflows in mind.

    Book a Free AllergyEHR Demo Today

    Immunotherapy Challenges Every Allergist Faces

    Allergist looks defeatedly at clinic paperwork on his desk.

    As an allergist striving to deliver the best possible immunotherapy care, you face hurdles that strain how your practice operates, earns, and treats patients. Knowing and understanding these obstacles is the first step toward finding viable solutions. Here are some of the common challenges allergists and immunologists face every day:

    Resource Constraints

    Resource constraints are a significant challenge for many allergy clinics, impacting their ability to deliver high-quality immunotherapy services. Many practices face staffing shortages, leading to longer patient wait times and increased workloads for existing staff.

    Additionally, limited funding can restrict access to the latest diagnostic tools and treatment options, hindering the ability to provide comprehensive care. These constraints can affect everything from patient intake and scheduling to timely treatment and follow-up care, ultimately impacting patient satisfaction and treatment outcomes.

    Allergen Supply Chain Issues

    Ensuring a consistent and reliable supply of allergen extracts is crucial for the success of immunotherapy treatments. However, allergists frequently face supply chain issues that can disrupt treatment schedules, diminish the therapy’s effectiveness, and negatively impact patient care continuity.

    According to a study published by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), around 95% of study respondents reported that supply chain disruptions in allergen immunotherapy extracts affected patient care. They also believe the following factors contribute to inconsistencies in the availability of necessary extracts:

    • Cost of Production
    • High Demand
    • Pollen Collection or Mold Culture Technique
    • Lack of Standardization of Extracts
    • Regulatory Oversight Procedures

    Patient Compliance

    An effective allergy immunotherapy treatment requires high patient compliance, but achieving this remains a persistent challenge. Immunotherapy often requires a long-term commitment, with treatments spanning several years. Patients may struggle with the frequency and duration of appointments, the travel distance to the clinic, scheduling conflicts, the discomfort of receiving injections, and concerns about potential side effects. 

    Patient non-compliance is a significant obstacle to achieving optimal immunotherapy outcomes. It can lead to irregular adherence to treatment schedules or dropping out of treatment entirely, reducing the therapy's overall effectiveness.

    Quality Assurance and Monitoring

    Maintaining high standards of care in allergy immunotherapy requires robust quality assurance and monitoring systems. Your clinic must adhere to clinical guidelines and protocols to ensure the safety and effectiveness of treatments. This involves regular staff training, accurate record-keeping, and ongoing monitoring of patient progress.

    Quality assurance also includes the need for continuous improvement based on patient outcomes and feedback. You can identify improvement areas or ensure treatments are administered correctly with systematic monitoring. Effective quality assurance practices help minimize risks, enhance patient safety, and improve the overall success rates of immunotherapy programs.

    Read More: Top 10 Best Allergy EHR Features Every Allergist Needs

    4 Proven Strategies to Counter Immunotherapy Challenges

     

    Overcoming the many challenges of allergy immunotherapy care requires a strategic and innovative approach. Implementing tried-and-tested strategies can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your treatments and streamline clinic operations—and leveraging the capabilities of an allergy-specific EHR system plays a crucial role in this process.

    Streamline Your Supply Chain Management

    As an immunologist, you understand that the consistent availability of allergenic extracts is essential for delivering effective allergy immunotherapy. Unfortunately, delays and changes in the supply chain can disrupt the steady flow.

    By keeping your inventory well-stocked and studying usage patterns to anticipate future needs, you can protect your practice and patients from the setbacks and inconveniences caused by supply chain disruptions. While not all EHR platforms have inventory management features, a system specializing in allergy and immunology should have them.

    Meditab’s IMS, for example, features a powerful vial monitoring system in its allergy-specific module. This allows allergists to perform the following tasks in one comprehensive platform:

    • Oversee in-stock medication inventory
    • Monitor expiration dates of administered shots
    • Run critical validation checks
    • Receive automated alerts for potential issues (e.g., expired vials or deviations from the recommended shot administration)
    • Adhere to strict safety standards 

    Implement Rigorous Monitoring Protocols

    The key to effective immunotherapy is ensuring patient adherence to the treatment plan, closely tracking progress, and adjusting protocols as needed. Having clear and well-structured monitoring protocols can help your practice achieve this.

    Your EHR system plays a vital role in monitoring and managing any adverse reactions or deviations in the immunotherapy plan. AllergyEHR features templated shot schedules that you can customize based on your patient’s needs. You can use these schedules to track build-up and maintenance shots, modify shot schedules as needed, and streamline allergy immunotherapy treatment plans.

    IMS also allows you to identify patients falling off their immunotherapy schedule and automatically follow up with them via email, text, and app reminders.

    Enhance Patient Engagement and Education

    Patient engagement and education are critical components of successful allergy immunotherapy because informed patients are more likely to adhere to their treatment plans.

    Effective engagement ensures that patients are active participants in their care, leading to better adherence to treatment plans and improved communication with healthcare providers. Educating your patients about immunotherapy's benefits, risks, and expectations can foster informed decision-making and promote a sense of ownership over their health.

    A comprehensive all-in-one EHR platform like IMS can support this initiative by allowing you to access and store a wealth of educational materials directly within the system. Your patients can also engage in their immunotherapy journey remotely through IMS Care

    HIPAA-compliant and highly secure, IMS Care allows patients to easily manage payments, request medication refills, schedule appointments, receive updates, and communicate with their providers anytime and anywhere.

    “I'm very excited about [IMS Care]. There are a lot of UI improvements, and it streamlines what the app and portal do. I'm very happy because anything that increases our communication with patients is great. It cuts down on time by enabling our staff to easily answer patient questions in the portal instead of needing to wait for a phone call.”

    - Jenilee Trew, AllerVie, EMR Director

    Optimize Your Resource Allocation

    Effective resource allocation involves strategically managing staffing levels, equipment, and other resources to meet patient demand while minimizing waste and inefficiencies. When done right, resource allocation helps you enhance patient access to care, reduce wait times, and improve overall clinic productivity. This is particularly important in allergy immunotherapy, where consistent treatment schedules and timely follow-ups are essential for achieving optimal outcomes.

    When you equip your practice with a cutting-edge EHR solution like IMS, you get access to data-driven analytics that can help you:

    • Assess staff workload
    • Forecast patient flow
    • Identify areas for improvement
    • Inform decision-making regarding resource allocation

    Taking a data-driven approach to running your allergy practice helps you avoid workflow bottlenecks, minimize patient no-shows, and shorten appointment wait times.

    Read More: Top 5 Features Your Allergy Practice Should Look For in an EHR

    Decongest Your Allergy and Immunotherapy Workflows with IMS

    Immunology specialist performs allergy tests efficiently and effectively on a patient

    In the fast-paced world of allergy and immunology, allergists like you need equally modern solutions to address the evolving challenges you face.

    With IMS, your practice can embrace the advancements in healthcare technology to streamline your clinic workflows. By integrating cutting-edge features explicitly tailored for allergy practices, IMS empowers you to navigate the complexities of modern immunotherapy with confidence and efficiency.

    Learn More About IMS for Allergy