Measurement based care tools empower patients, clinicians, and organizations with the objective clinical insight they need to improve outcomes and deliver the best care possible. These tools help providers case manage off-track clients, evaluate treatment effectiveness, and inform clinical decision making and quality improvements.
Clients benefit from measurement based care because they feel respected, engaged, and have a better understanding of their diagnosis and symptoms. They also report improved self-esteem and a greater sense of ownership in their treatment process.
Clinicians benefit from measurement based care because they gain insights into treatment effectiveness, monitor symptom reduction and deterioration, enhance clinical judgments, and enhance patient-provider communication. They can then adjust their approach to the patient if treatment is not improving.
Behavioral health is a growing field and has many challenges that require innovative solutions to overcome. However, many mental health providers and practices have not embraced measurement based care (MBC). This lack of usage may be due to clinician concerns about additional effort or difficulty with their EHR, as well as low patient engagement.
MBC is the systematic collection of symptom rating scale data throughout the course of treatment to determine if a patient is responding to therapy and if they are experiencing significant symptom deterioration. It is considered to be a core practice of evidence-based care, and has been linked to a number of clinical benefits such as increased patient engagement, reduced dropout rates, and improved client outcomes.
The use of symptom rating scales can increase clinicians’ knowledge of their patients’ symptoms and diagnoses and improve client outcomes in psychological disturbances, relationship issues, social functioning, and quality of life. They also accelerate symptom improvement by providing clients with information about their symptoms, and enabling them to track their progress over time.
A significant barrier to implementation of MBC is the lack of standardized and reliable symptom rating scales that can be administered routinely by clinicians. This lack of consistency can be problematic for clinical practices, as it can cause them to become overly reliant on subjective patient feedback and to have difficulty identifying when patients are not receptive to therapy.
In addition, there is a need for clinical practices to understand the significance of the symptom rating scales that they administer, as well as how they are perceived by patients. It is essential that these symptom rating scales are reliable, sensitive to change, and accessible during the clinical encounter to provide patients with accurate feedback about their symptom severity.
Additionally, it is essential that the symptom rating scales are easy to administer and interpret. This is especially important for clients with cognitive disabilities and thought disorders, who may have trouble completing questionnaires in the office or submitting their results.
Integrated digital metrics that move assessment beyond the office are crucial to creating new opportunities for measuring patient improvement between sessions. This is especially true given the telemental health pandemic that has led to a massive shift in mental health service delivery away from in-office appointments and toward at-home, remote services. The combination of enhanced measurement-based care with digital metrics and telemental health has the potential to increase client engagement, reduce dropout rates, and improve clinical outcomes.