Mining for gold in psychiatry

There’s a large and growing shortage of psychiatrists according to USA Today (Of all specialties, demand for psychiatrists is growing fastest). The article attributes the shortfall to lower earnings for psychiatrists relative to procedure-oriented specialties. Demand is growing while supply is declining.

Reimbursement is a challenge, as I’ve described recently.

I think there are some big business opportunities for psychiatric practices. In particular psychiatrists and other mental health professionals should step back and think about innovative ways to serve patients and boost their incomes. A particularly promising area is computer-based diagnostic tests and treatments. These can be done on a patient’s own time and require only modest time commitment from the mental health professional relative to a talk session.

Mental health parity also has important implications for the profession and should expand the ability to make money.

If you are a medical student reading this and are interested in psychiatry I suggest you pursue that interest. Even if psychiatrists’ incomes are lower today than those for other specialties I predict they’ll catch up.

July 1, 2010

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