Wednesday, 4 Aug 2021

Opinion | Robot Therapists? Not So Fast, Says Talkspace C.E.O.

Produced by ‘Sway’

Talk therapy has seen a boom during the pandemic. And with mental health chat bots like Woebot on the market and text therapy platforms like Talkspace going public, the possibility of humans outsourcing our behavioral health to algorithmic healers is only growing — along with the ethical questions attached to it. So Kara Swisher turned to Oren Frank, a co-founder and the chief executive of Talkspace, to ask what the increasing technologization of therapy means for treatment efficacy and for privacy.

[You can listen to this episode of “Sway” on Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.]

In this conversation, Kara asks Frank whether health care apps like Talkspace, which collect patient data, are offering meaningful insights or are privacy sieves waiting to be hacked. They also talk about how to measure treatment efficacy and who is accountable — the platform or the provider — when something goes wrong.

(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)

Thoughts? Email us at sway@nytimes.com.

“Sway” is produced by Nayeema Raza, Blakeney Schick, Heba Elorbany, Matt Kwong and Daphne Chen, and edited by Nayeema Raza and Paula Szuchman; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair; music and sound design by Isaac Jones; mixing by Erick Gomez; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Liriel Higa.

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