Comparative Value of Psychotherapy
October 12, 2012
Yesterday Jesse, a graduate of my alma mater, Texas A&M University, registered on my website to obtain a preview copy of my eBook. I reached out to Jesse, as I do with anyone signing up on the site or commenting on blog posts. There ensued an ongoing email exchange focusing on how Jesse found my site and what he needs help with.
“A friend is looking at expanding her husband’s psychiatric business but they have no idea what to do. Their income isn’t what they hoped for. So, I started searching the internet and found your site. I plan to give her your information. I’m not an expert consultant and can only help so much. I hope she calls you for help.”
I suggested he take a look at my blog, then he replied,
“The link is very interesting. I especially like the section “Roaming outside your discipline.” I think this is what my friends’ practice needs to do, literally. They have a strong client base and stay busy, but unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), the psychiatrist spends an average of 15 minutes longer per patient than other local psychiatrists. This has really impacted their bottom line. Their reputation is also excellent as are their outcomes. I will certainly recommend your site to the office manager (his wife) and encourage them to make the needed changes. Thanks!”
This exchange got me thinking about the value we bring to our clientele. The story Jesse tells is about a clinician dedicated to patient care but, compared to other, competing psychiatrists, is penalized monetarily. I know from experience that conceiving of the practice of psychiatry as a business bothers many of my colleagues. As I have written before, I have been accused of “going commercial” and even of exploiting my patients. Naturally I strongly disagree with these well-meaning folk. I have also written in an earlier post about the anti-business attitude in medicine generally, deriving, I think, from the century-long ban on physician advertising. There is a lingering bad taste in the mouths of my colleagues when thinking about aggressively promoting their practices like any other successful businessperson.
We are in the business to sell a service. That’s all. We have a limited amount of time per day in which to operate. The service we sell can transform peoples’ lives. I see it all the time. There are differences in psychiatric practices. Some place a premium on seeing large numbers of patients for very brief sessions. Some, like mine, focus on providing remarkable “customer service” in addition to excellent patient care. Dinner at McDonald’s provides nutrition and a certain satisfaction all its own, but dinner at Tru here in Chicago, for example, is a completely different animal.
Am I exploiting my patients as some have claimed or am I providing a service well worth the fee I charge? My clientele seem to think so. You will not have the experience of being a patient in my practice but you can weigh in on this issue. I hope Jesse’s friends are able to come to grips with how valuable their practice is to the citizens of Corpus Christi, Texas. What is the value of the service you provide? How do you put a dollar figure on it? I’d love to know.