And therefore expensive for psychiatrists. They get paid more to prescribe and monitor medications to upward of 1,200 patients in 15-minute sessions rather than to engage in hour-long, talk-based therapy with 50 or 60 patients, according to a recent article in the New York Times.
Only 11 percent of U.S. psychiatrists engage in talk-based therapies. They can’t afford to sit down with patients and get too interested in their problems. There’s no money in it. Instead you can talk to less costly psychotherapists, psychologists and various credentialed counselors.
So what’s next? Most likely, intelligent machines. There is some evidence that patients actually like giving their histories to computers, that adolescents are more honest with computers than with clinicians, that computer-based assessments can be comparable to the best rating instruments used in research, and that computer-assisted treatments are effective and well received.
Money and technological innovation will drive this. Are you depressed by this kind of prognostication? Talk to Dr. Hal. He’s coming to a network connection near you.