In the mental health sector, measurement based care is a growing practice that has many benefits for both patients and clinicians. The practice uses symptom rating scales to monitor progress throughout treatment and make adjustments as necessary. It is an effective way to improve clinical outcomes in both traditional and innovative psychotherapy models and helps reduce symptom worsening during treatment.
Measurement-based care is not new, but it is gaining popularity as more payors shift to value-based reimbursement. The benefits of this model include a greater focus on empirical data, reduced dropout rates, and enhanced client satisfaction. In addition, it offers a platform for healthcare systems to demonstrate the value of mental health services.
Despite its benefits, only around 18% of psychiatrists and 11% of psychologists use measurement based care tools. Those that do face the challenges of implementing standardized, outcome-based measures into their workflows. However, with the right tools and the appropriate level of training and support, this practice can prove extremely rewarding for both clients and clinicians.
How Measurement-Based Care Works
A measurement-based care practice combines a systematic assessment process with a patient-centered, whole-person approach to treatment. In the beginning, the clinic may offer a screening or diagnostic assessment to determine what symptoms the client has and what conditions they are experiencing. This is often done using a variety of standardized symptom rating scales. The results of this screening are used to identify the most appropriate treatment. Then, the clinician can monitor a patient’s progress throughout treatment and make adjustments as needed to support more positive results.
The goal of the practice is to meet the individual needs of each patient by determining what symptoms are present, what their severity is, and how much those symptoms impact their life. This will help the clinician build a foundation for their treatment plans and create a focus for the individual’s therapy.
Using standardized symptom ratings during treatment can improve the quality of the therapy session and increase patient engagement. It can also break down stigma surrounding mental illness and help alleviate self-blame by offering clients a set of measurable measurements of their condition. This can also be used to track treatment progress and acclimate patients to the concept of treatment goals.
R stands for Respond to Results
Response to results is a cornerstone of measurement-based care. It means celebrating even the smallest improvements and adjusting treatment as needed to address symptom stagnation or deterioration.
This is a key component of MBC as it empowers patients and reduces self-blame. It also allows for a more collaborative therapeutic relationship between patients and clinicians who can better recognize what symptoms they have and how those symptoms are affecting their lives.
MBC can be effective in addressing health disparities by incorporating symptom rating scales that have been culturally validated in low-income and minority populations. It is important that these symptom rating scales be selected with the best possible accuracy, reliability, and sensitivity to change.
The assessment and reporting process for MBC can be challenging to implement, especially when it is implemented on a remote basis. Nonetheless, there are a number of ways to overcome these challenges. For example, integrating the use of a digital system that collects assessments through patient questionnaires into the electronic health record can speed up the delivery of symptom ratings and reduce strain on office staffing and workflows.