There is an interesting thread on The Student Doctor Network about the profitability of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
One contributor to the discussion, posting in September 2019, says:
“I think ECT has the potential to be extremely lucrative, but the challenge is that it only becomes so with volume…. I say this as someone who does “interventional psychiatry” – primarily ECT – full-time. However, I’m at an academic center so I’m insulated from many of the pressures that would be present if you were trying to do things on your own. From the perspective of the medical center, these treatments are by far the most financially lucrative that we offer, thus there is no doubt that there is money available in interventional psychiatry.”
The poster describes their location as “Deep in the heart of Texas”. So, looking for “interventional psychiatry” at an academic center in Texas, I came across the electroconvulsive service at UT Southwestern Medical Center. I have no idea if it is where the poster works, but they say they treat hundreds of patients a year so they appear to have overcome the challenges of “volume”.
The UT Southwestern Medical Center describes ECT in the following terms:
“Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a treatment that sends a brief electrical stimulation through the brain while the patient is under general anesthesia. ECT causes changes in brain chemistry that can substantially improve symptoms of certain mental illnesses.”
It then promises to debunk four myths about ECT.
Myth number one is – you’ve guessed it – is One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Myth number two is a more surprising one – that ECT is a miracle cure. Depression, it warns, is a chronic condition and relapses can occur. But never mind, they have the answer to that in the form of maintenance treatments. (Well, that is one way to keep the volume up.)
Myth number three is about getting injured during the seizure – no longer a danger with muscle paralysing drugs.
Myth number four is about brain damage, but prospective patients are told not to worry: “Some patients have slight memory loss of recent events, and in most patients, this resolves within a few months after treatment ends.”