How A New Business Model Is Combating The Mental Health Crisis In Alabama

Dr. Timothy Prestley I April 10, 2023

Key is meeting patients where they go for healthcare

We are in a crisis when it comes to mental health in Alabama. With one in five adults in the state living with mental illness, we simply do not have enough mental health providers to meet the population’s needs. Current estimates indicate that the state has only a quarter of the mental health providers needed to effectively address the mental health needs of the population.

The Solution For Improving Mental Health In Alabama

We need to get creative with new business models. At Novus, we piloted a new model over two years ago in which we partner with primary care practices to address patients’ mental health needs. That model has been so successful, that we currently have four locations with plans for expansion across the state in 2023/2024.

This model works because primary care doctors, given the shortage of mental health providers, are currently the front line for mental health needs. If a patient comes in with depression symptoms, the doctor can refer the patient to a psychologist or counselor; however, those are in short supply along with psychiatrists. The doctor can also prescribe an antidepressant, yet medications do not work for 20–60% of patients with psychiatric disorders.

Leveraging Primary Care Physician’s To Better Treat Mental Health

By partnering with primary care practices, we can be the treatment arm in the primary care office for patients who need additional mental health care. In our model, eligible patients are referred to Novus via their primary care doctor. A Novus mental health provider joins the care team, working collaboratively with the primary care physician to identify the best treatment options for the patient.

One of our partnering PCPs, Dr. William Alldredge, feels that “the strength of a primary care doctor’s relationship with their patient can be the deciding factor about whether a patient tries this unique, new therapy.”

Through this format, patients can receive a diagnosis and treatment — and still receive care within the comfort of their primary care doctor’s office.

How Does DTMS Therapy Work?

Once a NOVUS provider joins the team, we can provide medication management for treatment resistant patients who do not respond to the first or second medication prescribed by the primary care doctor. We also can provide BrainsWay Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (Deep TMS™) treatment for depression and anxious depression.

For many patients, having access to Deep TMS at their primary care physician’s office can be life changing. 

Another one of our partners, Dr. Jeffery Laubenthal, stated that, “Deep TMS has been vital in our practice in giving us a successful and reliable treatment for difficult mental health disorders that traditionally would have required specialty referral.”

Deep TMS is a neurostimulation technology that uses a magnetic coil to activate neural networks in target areas of the brain associated with depression and anxious depression. Deep TMS is also FDA cleared to treat OCD and smoking addiction.

Treatment involves sitting comfortably in a chair and wearing a cushioned helmet containing a special magnetic coil for approximately 20 minutes. Patients received daily treatments over the course of several weeks. There are no systemic side effects and treatment does not require anesthesia. Patients remain awake and alert during treatment; many patients read a book, catch up on social media, or watch videos on their phone.

Using Deep TMS In The Treatment Of Depression

Deep TMS has many advantages over traditional depression treatments. It has been clinically proven to benefit many patients who do not respond to antidepressants or therapy, and it does not come with the systemic side effects associated with antidepressants. That said, many patients benefit from both medication and Deep TMS.

There are other types of TMS on the market, but we offer Deep TMS because of its demonstrated safety and efficacy. In an independent research clinical trial comparing the Deep TMS H-Coil with medication, a traditional TMS figure-8 coil with medication, and medication alone, Brainsway Deep TMS demonstrated superior outcomes with a 66% response rate and nearly 60% remission rate.

When you look at the real-world data from actual clinics, the majority of treatment-resistant depression patients have benefitted from Deep TMS. Among patients who completed 30 treatment sessions, nearly three in four achieved a clinical response and nearly one in two achieved remission.

Deep TMS treatment for depression is covered by most major healthcare insurance companies and all Medicare providers.

Alabama is in crisis when it comes to mental health. Providing mental healthcare options like Deep TMS in primary care practices –and making sure patients know about their options – is critical.

With this unique model, we aim to set the standard for improving mental health in Alabama and serve as a model for other states across the country who are facing similar struggles.

To learn how Novus TMS can be offered in your clinic, you can contact us directly at info@novusneuro.com, (205) 523-5618, or visit Novusneuro.com

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