allergychoices, Inc. – Validation Institute Podcast Ep 21

In this episode of the Validation Institute podcast, we explore AllergyChoices, a company dedicated to transforming how patients manage their Allergic Disease. Jeff Kessler, the president of AllergyChoices, discusses the increasing prevalence of allergies and their impact on health and healthcare economics. He highlights innovative approaches to understanding and treating allergies, improving patient outcomes and quality of life.

Key Takeaways from the Discussion on AllergyChoices

  1. Increasing Prevalence of Allergies: Allergies are on the rise due to environmental changes and improved hygiene standards. This has led to fewer immune system challenges and increased sensitivity to allergens.
  2. Link Between Allergies and Chronic Diseases: Allergies are a significant factor in chronic diseases such as asthma, sinusitis, and eczema. Managing allergies effectively can help mitigate these conditions.
  3. Economic Impact of Allergies: The economic impact of allergies is often underestimated in healthcare spending due to under-reporting and misclassification in medical coding. Employers can uncover hidden costs by analyzing medication spends and health visits more closely.
  4. Tools for Managing Allergy Impact: AllergyChoices provides tools to help employers and healthcare providers identify and manage the impact of allergies on productivity and health. These tools include detailed tracking systems and diagnostic aids to improve treatment outcomes.


Introduction to the Discussion with Jeff Kessler President of Allergychoices:

Validation Institute:

“Today we are discussing allergies specifically focused on a great company that believes that patients should have the option to change their Allergic Disease not just manage it. With that said, I would like to introduce Jeff Kessler, president of Allergy Choices. Hello Jeff and thank you for being here today.”

Jeff Kessler:

“Good to be here, thank you for the invitation.”

The Growing Concern of Allergies

Validation Institute:

“So, why are we hearing more about allergies? Is it really a growing problem?

Jeff Kessler President of Allergychoices:

Yes, allergies are interesting; they’ve been around forever. It’s kind of this insidious disease that sits behind a lot of other diseases. And yes, it’s not your imagination; allergies are on the rise and there’s a variety of reasons for that.

Some of it has to do with our environment in that we have cleaned it up so much; it’s called the hygiene hypothesis. People don’t get exposed to those things that will help their immune system grow to be able to defend those.

Another part of it is some of the changes going on with our climate. Warmer, wetter environments spawn more pollens, more dust mite mold—things that people are allergic to. So yes, a lot of allergies; about one in five people in the United States are impacted by them.”

Relationship Between Chronic Diseases and Allergies

Validation Institute:

“What is the relationship between chronic disease and allergies?

Jeff Kessler President of Allergychoices:

With chronic diseases, there are several of them that are triggered by allergies. The one that’s most top of mind, if you will, is asthma; most asthma is triggered by allergies.

Then you have sinusitis, one of the most prolific and common chronic diseases—that’s the inflammation in your sinuses. Sinusitis is also triggered by allergies, many times including mold allergies in your sinuses.

The other one would be eczema. Those are probably the big three. So, skin conditions that are triggered by allergies. And with the trifecta right there, along with Allergic Disease itself, throwing things like food allergies which are on the rise as well, it’s not hard to see how a fairly large percentage of a population is impacted by allergies.”

The Economic Impact of Allergies in Healthcare

Validation Institute:

“In the Validation Institute, we have employers and a bunch of folks that are really focused on healthcare spend. So, can you talk a little bit about why allergy in our economy is identified in healthcare spend?

Jeff Kessler President of Allergychoices:

Yeah sure, there are probably a couple of reasons why spend is not easy to find. One of the reasons is that a lot of people just simply live with their allergies.

They don’t associate the two or three times a year sinus infections or respiratory infections or ear infections that they get with their allergies; they just kind of put up with it.

They take a lot of over-the-counter medicines which may or may not show up on a spend report. And then the other thing is that the way our healthcare system is set up, many times that visit that is for a sinus infection or respiratory infection isn’t coded as anything related to Allergy; it’s coded as just that.

It’s a sinus or respiratory infection. So it gets a little different, a little difficult looking at CPT codes, looking at ICD-10 codes, things like that to really identify it.

What we have found is employers that can look at their medication spend, both what they have, maybe at their own dispensaries if they have on-site clinics, things like that, or from their PBM, they’ll begin to see a significant spend, usually it’s around asthma inhalers, things like that, rescue medications. And that’s kind of the telltale sign.

And when we’ve been able to get that sort of research done, if you will, data analytics, those the percentages hold pretty true that 20% of allergy sufferers and 10% that have asthma you know again it’s a little hard to coax that out of the data but you can get to it eventually.”

Unseen Impacts of Allergies on Productivity and Costs

Validation Institute:

“And there are all these impacts from allergies that most don’t think about. Can you discuss some of them including costs, productivity, absenteeism?

Jeff Kessler President of Allergychoices:

Yeah, there’s been more and more research done as of late on presenteeism and absenteeism related to allergies and again I’ve got to extend it out to those diseases that it triggers.

Again, when you can add these all together, it’s a significant impact. So there’s been a variety of employers, most of them large employers, that have looked into this and they’ve found that the impact on presenteeism—okay, so you have allergies, you don’t sleep well, that’s one of the common things, and so your productivity suffers from that.

And a lot of the studies show that presenteeism is even more profound than the absenteeism. Absenteeism, of course, you can find that in like I said respiratory infections, sinus infections; sometimes you’re out of work, sometimes you’re not.

This is where it gets really tricky as to determine that. And then, not a lot of people, but some have asthma so severe or food allergies so severe that they’re going to end up in the ER, even hospitalized and things like that.

It’s a very small percentage, but you know, all of those are from the mildest to the most severe kind of reactions that you can have and the impact that it can have on an employee or on an employee’s family.”

Supporting Employers in Managing Allergy Costs

Validation Institute:

“For the employers out there, how do you help those employer groups find and address the various costs of allergy?

Jeff Kessler President of Allergychoices:

We’re trying to help the employers first off understand what the impact is. We’ve coined it as the ‘footprint of allergy on their organization’ and that’s where I said it gets somewhat challenging to look at their spend data just to see what kind of impact they have.

We have a set of CPT and ICD-10 codes, we have all the medications, the long list of those that are allergy-related, providing that to them.

If they happen to have an on-site, near-site clinic, or maybe a DPC group that they work with, we can help them likewise look into their EMR systems.

So if you can get at that data, that utilization data, and comb through it, you’ll get a good insight into that. The other part is when you do work with providers, there’s usually a readily identifiable set of folks that are in their office on a regular basis, seasonal allergies things like that, and of course, there are a lot of people that suffer year-round, mold and dust mite allergies, danders from dogs, cats, things like that.

Those are perennial allergies, they’re not just going to happen in a season. So we’ve got those tools for them to help identify it. We’ve got some screener tools, a simple questionnaire to answer that kind of grades the answers that the individual has, and it scores whether it’s a mild case of allergies or something that’s managed over the counter all the way to things that are more impactful, impacting their productivity, impacting their health in a more major way.

So we have those tools available as well, and then on the back end, we have a registry system so if they do choose to enroll, get started with immunotherapy, get tested and started with immunotherapy, we have a registry system that allows them to track their progress over time and that information is available to the patient but it’s also available in more aggregate information to the employer, to the provider that’s providing the care to them. So we’re trying to cover the whole gamut of information for them to identify, treat, and then see the results.

Validation Institute:

Well, that’s great and speaking of data, Validation Institute has had a chance to review your data and we’ve validated your findings. Can you discuss what validations you’ve gotten and how that supports this program?

Jeff Kessler President of Allergychoices:

Sure, sure the validations were for the protocol that we use, it’s called the La Crosse Method Protocol. Our Center of Excellence Clinic, based on the protocol we provide and teach to the providers that work with us, has been in continuous use for over 50 years, probably approaching 300,000 patients, and in that time we did some studies with patients, outcomes if you will.

There were a series of surveys that were looked at, that was the first validation that we did, and what the Institute saw there was this consistency in those results.

Typically, patients were having less utilization, they were reducing their medication use, they were seeing a pretty significant impact on their quality of life.

All of those things were, like I said, consistently found. This was a university that did the surveys with the clinic, and then the second validation is more in a quality of life study.

This was using one of the standards out there in the allergy world, called the RQLQ, the Rhino-Conjunctivitis Quality of Life Study, so we use that as the backdrop and saw in that again the same sorts of results, improvements in pretty much all the quality of life measures that were there.

So those are the two primary pieces of information if you will. It’s a little challenging with allergy because it’s not again, it’s one of these insidious kinds of diseases that sits behind a lot of other things but once you address it, it can help so many other related conditions. So that’s what we had validated.”

CEO of Validation Institute:

“That’s great, and I guess after hearing all this we can breathe a sigh of relief. Yes, people are going to send emails on that one, bad joke, but knowing that there is a great company like yours out there with great options for everyone who was affected by these conditions and for everyone out there who wants to learn more about allergy choices, go to and download their report. Thank you, Jeff, for being here, it’s great to see you.”

Jeff Kessler President of Allergychoices:

“It’s a pleasure to be here, thanks for the opportunity.”


allergychoices, Inc. Validated Program Report

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