TMS & Other Therapies

Pandemic Paradigm Shift: What Will TMS Therapy Look Like Post-Pandemic?

September 4, 2020

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Medical providers all over the world have been required to make major, rapid changes to their practices alongside other businesses and organizations. With the COVID-19 pandemic threatening the health and safety of the world’s population, many states in the U.S. were mandated to discontinue all elective, non-emergent healthcare. For fields such as psychiatry, deciding what types of treatment should not be considered “emergency care” can become a bit complex. 

For a lot of patients, mental illness can very easily become an emergency, threatening the patient’s overall safety and well-being. When it comes to TMS therapy, this type of treatment is often prescribed for patients with severe, treatment-resistant depression or other mental health issues. Therefore, TMS is arguably essential and non-elective in many cases. Consequently, TMS practices, alongside other healthcare facilities, have had to make extensive adjustments in terms of taking the proper safety  precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a TMS provider, Transformations has made many changes to policies and operations in order to still accommodate patients and provide safe, quality care during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic continues to change, TMS therapy and psychiatry in general will continue to adapt and probably evolve greatly as we move into the post-pandemic period and the overall future.  

How is the COVID-19 Pandemic Affecting TMS Therapy Specifically? 

As the use of telehealth has exploded and non-emergent care has been delayed, TMS providers have been required to make many adjustments. 

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, TMS providers had to consider the dilemma of whether or not it was safe to continue TMS treatment, being that there are many exposure risks to patients, families, and staff. As a result, many providers reduced TMS services, stopped taking new patients, or even stopped providing TMS treatment all-together. The complexity of the dilemma surrounding the continuation of TMS treatment centered around whether or not it was considered absolutely essential right now. Though arguments can be made for both sides, it is certainly true that for some patients, specifically those with conditions like severe depression, TMS treatment would be considered non-elective and essential to their continued safety and well-being. 

Thus, TMS providers have had to make many adjustments to continue to accommodate patient care in a time where safety is not guaranteed. Some providers have chosen to hold off on accepting new patients for in-person treatment, but at least started the screening process for these patients, including working on the proper authorizations for treatment and developing plans for treatment following the first wave of the virus. Other practices have continued to provide treatment, taking care to use proper PPE and take various safety precautions. 

Of course, continuing to provide TMS therapy for patients during a pandemic poses many risks to both the patients themselves, family members, and staff. One major and more obvious concern is if a COVID-positive patient comes in for consistent TMS treatment, potentially exposing staff as well as other patients in the facility. This can obviously make decontamination a lot more difficult and even result in asymptomatic staff carrying the virus.

Despite exposure risks, it is important to note the economic considerations for TMS practices, along with other medical providers. With less treatment being provided overall and the average census being greatly reduced in hospitals across the country, delaying treatment services for too long could also threaten TMS providers’ ability to stay in business and continue to care for their patients moving into the future. Thus, many factors play into whether or not providers continue to provide TMS therapy and other services, and how they plan to provide treatment post-pandemic. 

A healthcare worker wears a face shield and surgical mask, which are considered to be proper PPE for protection against COVID-19.
Aside from affecting businesses and general lifestyles, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on healthcare. For many medical providers, deciding if services are considered essential and non-elective has become cloudy. TMS providers, along with other healthcare providers, have had to make major changes to their policies, including wearing proper PPE, in order to continue operating during the pandemic.  

How is Transformations Taking the Proper Precautions and Making Changes to Normal Operations During the Pandemic? 

As a provider of TMS therapy, Transformations has made many changes to previous policies and operations to ensure the safety of patients and staff. 

As Transformations, a provider of TMS therapy, continues to provide treatment to its patients during these trying times, many adjustments have been made in order to keep operations smooth, and most importantly, safe. Aside from the way treatment is provided, there are many important considerations to be made in general for a business operating during a pandemic. These considerations include keeping up-to-date with the number of infections in the area in order to prepare for potentially pausing treatment. Also, a suggestion for many providers is to limit contact and potential exposure by doing screenings and evaluations using telemedicine. 

Transformations has altered its policies and how it is operating in order to ensure the safety of both patients and staff. You can actually check out a video that details what adjustments are being made and how they are being specifically applied within the facilities. 

To generally outline the precautions being taken, Transformations is first and foremost focusing on the disinfection process, and how to keep its treatment facilities safe and clean. Medical-grade cleaning supplies are used before and after every patient interaction. This includes disinfecting the waiting room, as well as treatment rooms and any supplies used. The waiting rooms have been reorganized to accommodate proper social distancing guidelines, and all patients and staff are screened upon entering the building for any symptoms. All staff wear gloves and surgical masks throughout the treatment process, and patients are also required to wear a face covering during treatment. 

A woman gets her temperature taken as part of a screening procedure within a business.
In order to still provide medical treatment during a pandemic, proper screening procedures must be performed in order to ensure the safety of all parties involved. Transformations screens all of its patients and staff, which includes taking temperatures to identify anyone who has a fever. 

What Effect Will the COVID-19 Pandemic Have On TMS Therapy and Psychiatric Care Moving Into the Future?

With the field of telemedicine skyrocketing during the pandemic, psychiatry will have to plan for a proper balance of telepsychiatry and in-person care post-pandemic. 

As we’ve mentioned previously, healthcare has seen an explosion of telemedicine services during the COVID-19 pandemic. More importantly, it is likely that this type of care won’t just be temporary. With the pandemic continuing to be uncertain in its future and how it will continue to impact our world, the adjustments that have already been made by healthcare providers will probably continue to be incorporated even after business returns to normal. 

What proves to be amazing is how psychiatry has been able to adapt and thrive as telepsychiatry. Being that a large part of psychiatry involves the human connection, the fact that in-person care poses exposure risks has obviously created issues for the field in general. In having to adapt how treatment is provided, telepsychiatry has luckily been able to still provide many patients with the care they need during such a scary time. 

Psychiatrists themselves have started to speak up about how the pandemic will continue to affect the field. Though they note that the psychiatric care environment is currently unpredictable, many believe that even when the pandemic is more controlled, there still may be a lot of interplay between in-person and virtual psychiatric care.  

Certainly, as the pandemic transitions to a more contained state, psychiatry will correspondingly transition to more in-person care, as the field relies on human connectedness. All in all, however, much has been learned about the benefits and success of telepsychiatry and how effective virtual psychiatric care can be. As we move into post-pandemic times, the field of psychiatry may see some ongoing change in offering a balance of in-person and virtual care. 

A healthcare worker sits at a laptop to utilize telehealth technology.
As telehealth in general has skyrocketed, much has been learned about the effectiveness of virtual care. When it comes to the field of psychiatry specifically, it has been able to adapt to the idea of telepsychiatry and how to provide patients with psychiatric care without meeting in person. This will likely not be completely done away with post-pandemic, as an important interplay between virtual and in-person care may provide important future insight. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has proved to be devastating to many aspects of life, specifically in access to healthcare. When it comes to TMS treatment, there are many considerations that must be made not only in order to decide if TMS therapy is essential, but to adjust to this new environment in order to provide treatment in the safest manner possible. Transformations, along with many other providers have witnessed a variety of changes to treatment procedures, some of which may continue to stay in effect moving into the future.

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