Fall has arrived!

As the summer comes to a close unofficially this weekend, it’s the beginning of the fall allergy season around the United States. In my neck of the woods in Connecticut, the leaves are changing already and the ragweed is out in full bloom causing all sorts of havoc on many of our patients— including me. The question is, what can you do proactively to help your practice prepare from a clinical and a marketing standpoint?

Here are my 4 tricks of the trade:

1. Know your Medications: Similar to “lions, tigers, and bears oh my,” we have the tried and true Pazeo, Bepreve, Pataday, Alrex and Lastacaft. Beyond their varying mechanism of action, they are effective in managing the chronic allergy sufferer. With that said, when these individuals present emergently, do not hesitate to start them on your favorite steroid in either a single medication pulsing or concurrent fashion with your allergy drug of choice. The steroid pharmacodynamics uses a hierarchal COX-2 inhibition at the enzymatic level with Phospolipase A2 for which allows for less leakage through this pathway to facilitate an inflammatory response.

When those choices are not available due to insurance guidelines, we have to rely on legendary (my word replacement for the dreaded generic term) drugs such as olopatadine 0.1%, epinastine, azelastine, and cromolyn sodium.

2. The Coupon and Trial Defense: If you have not seen your local sales representative recently with samples and coupon cards, it is time to text them. Those valuable resources can save over $100 per fill and are highly underutilized by the medical profession to the tune of less than 10%.

3. Go on Offense with Questions: In my mind, there are certain key moments to capture patient attention with questions beyond itchy eyes such as:

  • Do your eyes ever water?
  • Do you ever rub your eyes in the morning when you wake up?
  • Do you sleep with the window open?
  • Do you have trouble breathing inside in the morning or when you are outside?

4. Marketing 101: Beyond talking about it when patients are already in the exam room, get to them prior to even entering your office. Our practice advertises in the local paper in the summer before the season begins to plant the seed. Some other simple modifications can be in office industry sponsored posters (see picture), emails through patient retention software, your website, and most importantly, social media to increase your reach. Succinctly, allergy patients are a public health and financial opportunity.

When you open the funnel, these individuals usually lead to family referrals and practice building for your practice. Take a moment to ask the extra question in between the sneezy, itching eyes and you will find tremendous value in this form of ocular surface disease!