A housecall for the 21st century

How COVID-19 changed business as usual for Jeffco allergists

Bob Wooley
bwooley@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 8/1/22

Pandemic inspiration lets patients of Lakewood allergy doctors breathe easier without an office visit.

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A housecall for the 21st century

How COVID-19 changed business as usual for Jeffco allergists

Posted

Pandemic inspiration lets patients of Lakewood allergy doctors breathe easier without an office visit. 

If necessity is the mother of invention, the global pandemic may just turn out to be its favorite uncle (or other beloved relative). Some shifts in the way business was being done mid-pandemic seem to have caught on and are sticking around now that things are back to relative normal. 

A group of industrious allergists in Lakewood are successfully creating a new model of testing and treatment that gives patients the thorough hands-on approach of an office visit with the convenience and flexibility of a remote chat.

Dr. Manan Shah, allergist and Ear, Nose and Throat specialist at The Colorado Ear, Nose & Throat Group, is one of the founders of the start-up, called Wyndly. He said once the pandemic eased, he was having a hard time getting patients to want to come back into the office.  

Shah explained a bit about how traditional allergy treatment works, saying typically people have either just tried to avoid things they're allergic to — cats and dogs, for example, or take medicatons like Zyrtec or other such products you may see lots of televison commercials for, for the rest of their lives. The other option, which his group specializes in, is called immunotherapy. 

"Where we basically give you a small bit of what you're allergic to, and over time as we continue to expose your body to it, most patients will become desensitized," he said. "It's a really cool therapy. And there's only two ways of doing it. The traditional method was allergy shots. And the alternate method is allergy drops, called sublingual immunotherapy, where we take that same medication and put it under your tongue and it absorbs orally."

Shah said during the pandemic, no one wanted to come into the office to get the shots every week. So, he and  the other doctors in his office switched over to primarily doing sublingual immunotherapy. They then created a video, teaching patients to do a finger prick (to draw a drop of blood) at home. The patient then sends the blood sample directly to a lab, who in turn sends the results to the doctors to prescribe treatment.

"Then for follow-up visits, we would meet with patients via HIPA compliant Zoom," he said. 

Shah said once things got back to where in-person business restrictions were finally being lifted, many patients had grown accustomed to the ease of the virtual treatment sessions and were hesitant to come back in person. So, after an initial "what do we do now" moment, his group leaned into the challenge and Wyndly was born.

"We ended up launching here in Colorado and now we've partnered with doctors across the nation," he said. "I'm a doctor and surgeon and I know how to do medicine, but I didn't know how to do the tech part, so we partnered with a team and went to a startup accelerator to help us build the technology."

Shah said the tech part of the experience has been fun.  But one of the things he prides himself on is that he spends as much time with patients in the virtual environment, as he does during a traditional office visit. And that continuing to offer that human experience is always top of mind.

"We've been excited to bring that same level of academic medicine to people through a digital health medium," he said.

If you or someone you know suffers from allergies, check out wyndly.com.

 

allergies, allergist, medicine, Lakewood, doctors, technology, virtual housecall

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