Measurement based care is an evidence-based practice that is revolutionizing the way psychiatrists and other mental health providers practice. It allows clinicians to track and measure patient progress, response to treatment, illness severity and suicide risk in real time.
Traditional medical practices use measurement in clinical care to confirm a diagnosis, monitor symptoms and make treatment adjustments to ensure optimal outcomes. For example, blood pressure and hemoglobin A1C are routine measurements for hypertension and diabetes patients, respectively.
The reason for this is simple: these markers are tangible and are easy to collect. It is also easy to monitor if patients are improving or not.
In the mental health field, symptom rating scales are often used to assess patient progress during sessions. They are used to help patients understand their symptoms and how they affect daily functioning, relationships and quality of life.
They are also used to track changes in symptoms from baseline to demonstrate that a patient is responding positively or negatively to treatment. The data is then analyzed and aggregated into a graphical format that can be shared with the client.
Many studies show that integrating symptom rating scales into the treatment process improves outcomes in medication management and psychotherapy. Clinicians have found that incorporating symptom ratings into the routine of their practice leads to increased satisfaction with their work and improved treatment outcomes.
As a result, it is becoming more common to see practices using symptom rating scales as part of their routine care. The APA has established a workgroup on MBC that is dedicated to making it a more universally practiced approach in the future.
Behavioral health is an area that has fallen behind in utilizing measurement based care, so it is important to start practicing this method now. There are several reasons why this is the case, including:
When a clinician collects objective data on patient progress, they can be more confident in their treatment decisions and can make adjustments to treatments quickly. Similarly, when patients and caregivers can see that treatment is working, it encourages them to continue.
As insurance carriers begin to recognize the correlation between physical health and mental health, they are more likely to pay for care that is backed by data. They are also more likely to negotiate payment rates because they can see that providers are improving mental health outcomes.
Symptoms and severity fluctuate over time, so it is crucial for therapists to have up-to-date information about patient progress. This requires consistent and frequent symptom rating scale completions throughout treatment, or else asynchronous feedback can be ineffective.
Valant’s Behavioral Health EHR makes it easier than ever for staff to complete patient outcome measures. Over 65 rating scales are standard in our software, and they automatically flow into clinical notes as narrative. The data is then visualized to support patient-clinician collaboration and data-driven decision making and treatment planning.
Despite this, many psychiatric practices are slow to incorporate measurement based care into their workflow because of the burdens associated with it. Some have concerns about how it might disrupt the already-busy workflow of their practice, while others believe they could be limiting their ability to meet patients’ needs. However, with Valant’s Behavioral Health EHR, the barriers to starting a measurement-based care practice are removed and providers can focus on providing high-quality treatment to their patients.