Outcome measures are valuable for monitoring the effectiveness and quality of behavioral health services. Use of outcome measures can benefit both the clinician and the patient, from diagnostic accuracy to treatment monitoring to facilitating better and more robust communication. As behavioral health increasingly focuses on outcomes and measurement-based care, it’s important to understand:
- Role of outcome measures in your practice
- Types of outcome measures
- Tools incorporating outcomes measures that are helping behavioral health clinicians better identify, diagnose and monitor individuals with mental health conditions
Importance of Outcome Measures in Healthcare
Outcome measures, including behavioral health therapy outcome measures, play an important role in providing a quantifiable baseline with which to track results of interventions and do so in a measurable way.
With outcomes data, clinicians find themselves in a better position to communicate progress objectively, identify whether interventions are improving the patient’s health status, and make evidence-based decisions on whether to continue or adjust current interventions and what decisions to make about future interventions.
When patients receive feedback on outcome change, studies show an increase in accuracy of diagnosis, improved communication between patient and clinician, enhanced treatment monitoring, and maintenance of positive effects of treatment for longer periods.
Outcomes also are valuable in behavioral health because they provide an objective sense of health status across settings. Those involved in the care team can have shared knowledge of patient health status whether they are based in a primary care, mental health practice, school or hospital setting.
When validated and viewed at a population health level, the use of outcomes measures can aid in identifying best practices and predicting which patients might benefit most from a particular intervention. Researchers and payers are also increasingly tracking outcomes to measure clinical effectiveness.
On the provider and payer side, outcome measures and measurement-based care are taking on greater significance because of the ongoing shift toward value-based care. As Proem Health's Dr. Thomas Young notes, "Under a value-based model, If I'm going to make a stake in the ground for what is considered a valuable treatment for depression and expect a payer to pay for the care, I must see that the patient got better in 12 weeks. And then I must subsequently see that the patient maintains this improvement for up to 12 months. The ability for people to do that is through measurement-based outcomes."
Therapy Outcome Measures Examples
Let's take a quick step back and clarify what is considered an outcome measure. Assessing a patient baseline and determining the impact of an intervention often depends on the patient’s subjective view of their symptoms or health. As such, patient-report outcomes (PROMs) are often used, sometimes in combination with patient data reported by another individual.
PROMs rely on self-report evaluations that typically incorporate rating scales or questionnaires. These outcome measurement tools can be generic or specific to conditions.
When tracking therapy progress, most tools will measure one or more of the following four types of outcomes to some degree:
- Symptom and symptom burden
- Health-related quality of life (including functional status)
- Experience with care
- Health behaviors
Therapy outcome measure examples include a patient with obsessive-compulsive behavior reporting the frequency of repetitive handwashing or a patient with anxiety being tracked for its severity based on frequency of symptoms such as feeling anxious or being irritable and the degree these symptoms are affecting ability to work, take care of things at home or get along with other people
Development and selection of appropriate PROMs, whether for use in clinical practice or other purposes, such as quality improvement initiatives, requires consideration of validity, sensitivity, reliability, suitability for generalization and feasibility.
Outcome Measurement Tools in Behavioral Health
Within the behavioral health industry, we've witnessed an increase in the number of tools available to effectively track and measure therapy outcomes. Many clinicians are finding it’s easy to use outcome measurement tools incorporated in software-based screeners, diagnostic solutions and patient progress monitors. Such tools make it easy to track progress over time and against other patient populations with efficiency and reliability.
These outcome measurement tools can be broad or specific to a condition. They are available for adult as well as youth populations. Just a few examples of popular screening, diagnostic and monitoring tools that incorporate outcome measurement and demonstrate this diversity include the M.I.N.I. 7.0.2 (Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview), the BDDQ (Body Dysmorphic Disorder Questionnaire), the CYBOCS I and II (Children's Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale) and S-STS (Sheehan-Suicidality Tracking Scale).
Integrating Behavioral Health Therapy Outcome Measures
Looking for ways to integrate outcome measurement tools and measurement-based solutions into your organization? Reach out to Proem. The Proem solution and its evidence-based tools are helping healthcare organizations nationwide better address our current mental health crisis and ease the pain of mental illness one step at a time.