measurement based care mental health is an evidence-based approach to treating mental health patients. It involves systematic administration of symptom rating scales and use of the results to drive clinical decision making at the level of the individual patient. It is a growing area of research and practice that provides a variety of benefits to clients, clinicians, and practices.
Improved symptom outcomes for psychiatric disorders and psychotherapy are among the most well-supported benefits of measurement based care. Clients who complete standardized ratings throughout treatment report greater sense of ownership in their care, accelerated symptom improvement, and increased understanding of their diagnoses, symptoms, and therapeutic endpoints.
MBC is also linked to better overall mental health outcomes including improved quality of life, reduced depression and suicidal ideation, and a decrease in anxiety levels. MBC can also be a catalyst for improved patient-clinician communication, and better relationships with family members.
The goal of MBC is to provide feedback that is objective, unbiased, and derived from data rather than the client’s subjective impressions. This can be a challenging process, but it is necessary to effectively monitor the progress of patients and achieve the best possible outcomes.
It is important to understand the limitations of traditional assessment methods, which are primarily tethered to clinical sessions. As illustrated in Figure 1A, a behavioral health practitioner can conduct an initial symptom survey with a client in the clinical encounter. While the process may be a helpful tool to assess a patient, this type of assessment often lacks the ability to capture real-world functioning and the impact of treatment on symptoms. In addition, self-reported assessments are prone to recall bias and mood-state bias.
While many clients find the standardized rating scales a helpful tool, they are not always reliable. They may not reflect the true underlying condition or symptoms, and they may not be able to be completed at the time of the visit. This process is also labor intensive for clinicians and may limit the number of data points collected.
A more efficient and effective way to implement MBC is to use a digital assessment system, which automates the measurement process and makes it easy for clinicians to share and respond to outcomes. This helps therapists overcome the tedium and distractions that can occur when they hand a paper form to each client.
For example, Valant’s Behavioral Health EHR has over 65 rating scales that automatically push to patients as they enter the clinic, saving time and supporting higher-level coding when appropriate. Moreover, the resulting data is instantly visible in the clinical chart, which supports collaborative patient-clinician conversations and facilitates data-driven decision making and treatment planning.
In addition, clients who have access to their therapist’s progress monitoring reports are more likely to follow treatment plans and stay committed to the process. This helps reduce symptom deterioration and supports value-based reimbursements.
Ultimately, using measurement based care is a win-win for clients, clinicians, and practices alike. It enables providers and their teams to support more effective and efficient care, while also demonstrating the value of their services and increasing their revenue.