COMPUTERS increasingly are entering the psychiatric consultation room, according to reports at this year's annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Some psychiatrists use computers to take histories, fine-tune diagnoses, monitor progress, and maintain therapeutic contact via electronic mail (e-mail) between office visits. They report changes in the physician-patient relationship as patients and families explore vast Internet medical information resources and join online support groups. Pathologic computer use is a growing concern.
Leading off a 2-day program on computers in clinical practice, Howard Feinstein, MD, PhD, a psychiatrist practicing in Ithaca, NY, described a recent visit with a patient referred to him for a medication consultation. Sitting at his desk opposite the patient, his keyboard in front of him and the screen to the side to permit face-to-face contact, Feinstein evaluated and entered the man's remarks into a computer chart. At the end of the interview, he