Measurement based care mental health is an effective clinical practice that has been shown to improve outcomes in both psychotherapy and medication management. It enables a more personalized treatment approach by enabling clinicians to use validated brief, symptom rating scales to monitor progress and provide feedback for individualized adjustments in the treatment plan when necessary.
Benefits to Clients
Despite the evidence supporting measurement based care and its benefits to patients, only 18% of psychiatrists and 11% of psychologists use symptom rating scales in their practices. Despite this, randomized controlled trials show that practices that incorporate this practice improve outcomes in mental health treatment (1-4).
The key to successful measurement based care is selecting validated brief, symptom rating scales that align with your practice’s specific goals and objectives. These brief measures will vary from practice to practice and should be able to detect the presence of symptoms and changes in severity over time.
Validity and Practicability
Choosing a symptom rating scale should be based on three criteria: validity, practicability, and norm-reference. For example, a symptom rating scale to assess the severity of a depressive episode should have established scoring thresholds, be sensitive to changes in severity, and be feasible to administer, taking into account time and other resource constraints.
In order for measurement based care to be successful, therapists need to collect accurate and up-to-date symptom data on each patient. A study showed that clients who completed symptom ratings via mail every few months did not see an improvement in their symptoms (34).
The best way to implement measurement based care is to have the patient complete a rating scale during each session or right before it, and therapists should provide feedback about the results of the symptom assessment. In a study of eating disorder patients, those who received immediate feedback from their therapists about their symptom results had better outcomes than those who received feedback from their therapists later in the course of the treatment sessions.
It’s also important to remember that symptom rating scales are not a replacement for the clinical judgment of the provider. They are an integral part of the therapist-client relationship and help drive the clinical decision making that is needed to achieve patient goals.
Increasingly, payers are seeking practices that can demonstrate positive clinical outcomes and are receptive to paying for them under value-based payment models. Providing objective documentation of clinical improvements helps payers establish stronger relationships with providers and allocate their resources accordingly.
Improved Clinical Outcomes
Measurement based care is an important tool for improving mental health outcomes, and it can be easily implemented in any mental health setting. By incorporating measurement-based practices into their practice, therapists can enhance their skills and ensure they’re providing the highest quality care possible.
The main benefit of measurement based care is that it empowers clinicians and patients by improving communication and collaboration. This helps both parties feel more comfortable and empowered about discussing their mental health concerns, which increases adherence to the treatment plan.