Introducing the Automated Psychiatrist Machine

Are you tired of waiting fifteen minutes only to spend ten minutes with your psychiatrist? Do you hate rearranging your busy schedule, fighting traffic, and trolling for a parking space just to spend a few minutes with your doctor? Wouldn’t it be easier if you could take care of your mental health according to your schedule, instead of someone else’s?

We are pleased to introduce the Automated Psychiatrist Machine (APM). The APM is an advance in medical technology that dramatically increases the efficiency of patient care and results in high patient satisfaction scores.

We know what a typical appointment with your psychiatrist is like: You check in and sit in an uncomfortable, crowded waiting room with strangers. You then see your psychiatrist, who may (or may not) ask you about your current symptoms. Maybe you just talk about your recent vacation or your plans for the holidays. He might ask you about side effects. Maybe the only question he asks you is how many refills you want. You wish that you didn’t have to see him every three (or six… or nine…) months, but he won’t write prescriptions for you if he doesn’t see you.

“But I’m fine. Do I really need to come in every six months?” you ask. The meds help. You don’t want to talk about stuff. You are a busy person with things to do and multiple lives to live. Who has time for anything else?

This is where the Automated Psychiatrist Machine comes in.

Located outside of various medical centers, APMs allow you to take control of your care. Do you work day shifts or care for children and it’s just not convenient to see your doctor during the day? Go see the APM after work. Did you get sick and now must reschedule your appointment? Go see the APM when you are feeling better. The APM is open and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The APM has a touchscreen that will guide you through questions your current psychiatrist may (or may not) ask:

  • How many hours are you sleeping?
  • Have you noticed any changes in your appetite or weight?
  • Are you experiencing any side effects from medication?

The entire interaction takes less than five minutes. Once you answer the short set of questions, the APM will print out your prescriptions that you can take to a pharmacy at your leisure. Additions and adjustments are made to your medication regimen according to an algorithm.

There is no reason for you to see a real psychiatrist anymore. Make no mistake: your psychiatrist will still be your psychiatrist, but you just don’t need to actually see him.

Psychiatrists, the APM can increase your productivity and efficiency, too! A small videocamera on the APM captures video of the patient so you can document a mental status exam. The more patients you refer to the APM, the more patients you can “see” in one day! According to research, the average interaction with an APM lasts about four minutes. That means you could potentially “see” 120 patients a day! And if insurance companies are willing to reimburse $120 a patient, you can see how the numbers add up.

And because of advances in technology, psychiatrists can now work from home. You don’t need to get up and go to your office. APM can securely channel video to your home computer so you can both review the questions patients answer at the APM and perform mental status exams. You’ll essentially go through the same interactions that you had with your patients before, except you don’t even need to be in the same room as them. You can still assert that you’re a psychiatrist, even though you never actually directly interact with patients!

The Automated Psychiatrist Machine will improve quality of life for both patients and psychiatrists alike. Ask your psychiatrist about the APM today.

  1. The APM medication algorithm may not be evidence-based or take into consideration your specific symptoms or side effects.
  2. Psychiatrists using APM could potentially see 15 patients an hour. An eight hour day thus equals 120 patients. Compare this to the 25 to 30 patients you see a day now.

Maria Yang is a psychiatrist who blogs at In White Ink.

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  • John C. Key MD

    Great satire. And like most great satire, it is all too true.

  • DavidBehar

    You mock, but I like. Do people need a pulmonologist to take care of a cold? Do they need a surgeon for a scraped knee? People should be allowed to do psychiatric first aid with a large choice of over the counter psychiatric medications. Most are far safer in use and in overdose than all OTC meds now available.

    There are 10 million car crashes a year. Say 10% cause PTSD. Why do I have to spend hours and a lot of money for a prescription of sertraline 25 mg to prevent a permanent fear of cars? Why not screen me for serious pre-existing conditions, refer me if necessary, suggest the OTC sertraline if not necessary?

  • azmd

    The ten minute med-check is a phenomenon which is destroying the profession of psychiatry, based as it is on the false premise that we don’t really need to talk to or know our patients. Writing a satirical piece is maybe a start, but what we really need are some serious suggestions as to what psychiatry can do to reclaim credibility in the eyes of our patients and the world.

    • Guest

      My brother often remarks that a psychiatrist saved his life, no other doctor/medical practitioner ever has. But his insurance is happier to pay out for any other kind of medical care, than for his psychiatrist (bipolar I but originally diagnosed as depressed when down and given antidepressants by a doc-in-the-box PA, and then given xanax when hyper by another doc-in-the-box NP).

      PSYCHIATRISTS SAVE LIVES, they should have as much credibility as oncologists.

  • Margalit Gur-Arie

    Oh no…. You don’t get the $120 per patient, and you are not their psychiatrist anymore. The APM is run and managed by some high-tech private corporation, or Walmart, that makes you swipe a credit/debit card before you begin the “consult” and charges you “only” $39.99 for a complete evaluation and management (4 minutes max, plus 30 seconds to read and accept the disclaimer).

  • Marcus Andersson

    My psychiatrist’s questions are different:

    1) Psychiatrist: What are you on again?
    My response: Don’t you know?
    Psychiatrist: It’s faster for me to ask than to look it up.

    2) Psychiatrist: Any thoughts of hurting yourself or anyone else?
    Me: No.

    3) Psychiatrist: Any side effects?
    Me: (As I say each time): There’s no way for me to tell. i’ve been on the same meds for 15 years. They’ve never been changed.

    As she’s asking the questions, she’s writing out my scripts. She hands them to me. And we’re done.

    I’ve been doing this long enough that I feel like I am doing her a favor. She sometimes wants me to come in more often and I don’t doubt that it’s because she just needs to fill a slot. But there is truly no reason to see her. I don’t share anything about my life with her because how much could I tell her? And what would it matter? That’s why I have a psychologist.

    I told her when I first met her that my only qualification for a psychiatrist is that they not be abusive. I’ve seen two who were nuts and verbally abusive. She’s met that qualification with flying colors. I expect absolutely nothing else but a script. I used to go in and ask about supplements and things. Different ideas for treatment. I have no expectations now, so I am never let down. I figure psychiatry is my work. I know exactly what her role is.

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