PlushCare, a direct-to-consumer telemedicine service that originally focused on acute and urgent care, has partnered with Thermo Fisher Scientific to add allergy testing to its offerings. PlushCare users will have access to Thermo Fisher's ImmunoCAP Specific IgE blood test, which can detect a number of allergies without needing to subject a patient to the traditional skin prick test.
"It’s a trick question but we always say ‘What is the number one treatment for allergies?’ and the answer is ‘Avoid the thing you’re allergic to'," Rebecca Rosenberger, clinical education manager at Thermo Fisher, told MobiHealthNews. "That's impossible to do unless you know what it is."
The service will be available via PlushCare's website to patients that have symptoms they think might be due to allergies.
"Patients can go on the website and find out if their symptoms are suggestive of allergies," Dr. James Wantuck, cofounder and chief medical officer of PlushCare, told MobiHealthNews. "They can order the testing and go in person to get the blood drawn. And then they have a visit with a PlushCare physician who is trained to interpret the results and help the patient understand what the results mean and how to best treat their symptoms, whether they’re allergic symptoms or nonallergic symptoms."
Allergies are an extremely common ailment, but allergists are a relatively small specialty. The condition is also commonly misunderstood, according to Rosenberger.
"There are a lot of patients self-managing and self-treating what they presume to be allergies," she said. "And not all of those symptoms are attributable to allergies. So they’re potentially mistreating, misdiagnosing themselves. They don’t realize that they can have access to this type of care or to a blood test. Some don’t know that it even exists or that it’s accurate, and once they do and realize that they can take that information and act on it, and do a few simple and oftentimes free things at home, that can have a huge impact on their symptoms."
Wantuck says this push into allergies is part of a gradual expansion for PlushCare from acute and urgent care, where the company started, to more and more specialties
"Originally we were more focused on the acute care, minor ailments and illness," he said. "But over the past several years we’ve been expanding and sort of becoming an online full-service provider that does lab testing, treating more chronic conditions, treating sexual health, [and now] we treat allergies. Across the care continuum, we want to do everything we can virtually. For those cases where someone needs more specialized care or in-person care, we’re referring people in."