The practice of using standardized measurement scales to evaluate behavioral health patients and their progress throughout treatment is called measurement based care behavioral health (MBC). MBC improves patient outcomes, enhances clinical decision making and quality of care, enriches communication between client and clinician, and demonstrates value of treatment.
The first and most important benefit of MBC is that it provides a more objective, systematic evaluation to inform behavioral health treatment over time. This is critical in avoiding burnout and improving clinical effectiveness.
Achieve Better Patient Outcomes Faster
The best way to ensure you achieve your desired outcomes is to implement a cadence for measuring symptom severity and progress. This means that you need to re-assess a patient’s symptoms at regular intervals so that you can make adjustments in your treatment plan. It is also essential to use rating scales that are sensitive to both symptom and change over time, as well as brief measures that can be administered at the beginning of treatment.
Once a cadence is established, patient fluctuations are seen more quickly and baseline changes are viewed more frequently. Once a baseline change is spotted, treatment plans are adjusted to help clients meet their goals and avoid relapses.
More Money for Behavioral Health Clinicians
Insurance carriers are increasingly recognizing that the same principles apply to mental health as they do with physical health, and they are willing to pay clinicians more when they use outcome measures. This is a great incentive for behavioral health providers to transition to using measurement based care.
More Evidence for Payers and Accreditation Organizations
It is important to measure patient progress to demonstrate that treatment is effective and to support the development of evidence-based practice for behavioral health providers, accreditation organizations, and payers. This is important for the upcoming era of value-based reimbursement, which focuses on quality and efficiency.
Choosing the Right Outcome Measures
Unlike the traditional, paper-based forms that many therapists still use today, measurement based care requires an electronic medical record (EMR). EMRs that incorporate measurement-based care solutions can be flexible and scalable to accommodate your practice needs. They can include integrated client tracking, alerts to any unusual data points, and reporting tools that allow you to track progress on a number of quantitative metrics.
The EHR is also an excellent tool to track symptom ratings, especially when used in conjunction with a medication management program. Medications for depression can sometimes have side effects that affect symptoms, so tracking a patient’s response to medication is vital to monitoring treatment effectiveness.
In addition, if you have multiple therapists within your practice, measurement-based care can help coordinate patient data across the team, so that you can make adjustments to treatment plans if necessary. This helps to eliminate treatment inertia and reduces relapse rates, which are a leading cause of unsatisfactory clinical outcomes.
Keeping the Client’s Voice in Mind
It is important to select brief, validated symptom measures that align with your treatment goals and objectives. These should be symptom rating scales that have established scoring thresholds and are sensitive to both symptom and change over the course of treatment.