Measurement based care is an evidence-based approach that allows behavioral health practices to track patient progress and provide objective evidence of treatment effectiveness. It is similar to the way a cardiologist would use blood pressure and other physical markers to assess patient health outcomes and ensure that the treatment plan is working.
It’s a proven and time-tested method that can help you get to the root of your patients’ problems, reduce drop out rates and improve outcomes. It is also an excellent way to demonstrate your commitment to evidence-based care and earn more revenue by achieving higher reimbursement for your practice.
MBC focuses on the systematic administration of validated symptom rating scales during clinical encounters with patients. This provides feedback on the patient’s response to treatment and enables the clinician to adjust their treatment strategies when patients are not responding adequately.
The benefits of MBC are numerous, and it has been deemed essential for improving patient outcomes by many mental health professionals. It also improves therapist efficiency and adherence to treatment, which is particularly important for patients with chronic mental illness such as depression.
It has been endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and a growing number of other medical and mental health professional organizations. The APA has even formed a Workgroup to address the challenges and best practices of implementing MBC.
There is a significant amount of research on the benefits of MBC, including its efficacy in treating a wide range of psychiatric disorders. The most common results are that symptom improvement occurs significantly more frequently, and patients’ overall functioning and quality of life improves. MBC also facilitates improved communication between the patient and provider, which can be vital to successful outcomes.
In addition to improving a patient’s mental health, MBC also leads to measurable savings for health systems and clinics. Payers are more likely to reimburse for services that demonstrate positive outcomes because they know that improved mental health leads to reduced hospitalizations and lower costs of care.
Despite its value, however, less than 20% of behavioral health practitioners integrate MBC into their practices. This may be due to a variety of reasons, such as the need for extra time or the lack of reimbursement from payers.
A key challenge to implementing MBC is that it requires the systematic use of symptom rating scales that are reliable, sensitive to change and easily accessible during the clinical encounter. This requires a commitment on the part of clinicians to conduct symptom rating scale assessments in a consistent and timely manner.
Without this fidelity, it is difficult to evaluate the quality of care. Moreover, it is difficult to assess whether quality improvement efforts are effective and if they lead to better outcomes.
The extant literature has identified a variety of obstacles to MBC implementation, such as patient and provider discomfort with the idea of measurement and a limited budget. It has also identified strategies for addressing these challenges, such as the use of technology to provide timely and accurate symptom rating scale feedback.