Expanding the Use of Measurement Based Care Tools in Mental Health


Measuring and tracking patient outcomes can improve the clinical experience of clinicians, patients, and payors. It can also enhance clinical decision making and facilitate individualized treatment planning and coordination. However, it is difficult to implement measurement based care in psychiatric practices due to a variety of barriers including costs, organizational requirements, and time constraints.

Despite the evidence for its effectiveness, measurement based care is still not widely practiced in mental health. In fact, only around 18% of psychiatrists and 11% of psychologists use measurement based care tools in their practice.

Many measurement based care programs utilize psychometrically validated patient self-report questionnaires that are sensitive in measuring symptoms and detecting changes over time. These standardized tools allow practitioners to easily monitor and chart client progress. Clinicians can then change their approach to treatment if symptoms worsen or problematic symptoms arise, or celebrate successes when certain symptoms have improved.

Measurement based care is a vital component of the healthcare field and is becoming increasingly popular in other fields as well. Examples of common measurement based care tools include blood pressure monitoring for hypertension, hemoglobin A1C levels for diabetes, and the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) for substance abuse.

There is a wealth of scientific research demonstrating that measurement based care can be used to increase symptom control and reduce relapse rates in treatment-resistant clients. The majority of randomized controlled trials using measurement based care have shown that systematically and frequently administering symptom rating scales and providing feedback to patients during their clinical encounters significantly improves client outcomes.

These findings suggest that a more expanded model of measurement based care can be incorporated into routine clinical practice to improve quality of care and achieve better outcomes for patients. This expanded model includes incorporating passive data points such as wearables, apps, and digital devices into the assessment process.

A more comprehensive, patient-centered measurement based care approach may help clinicians better engage their patients by generating a deeper understanding of their daily functioning and how the treatment affects this. Additionally, this approach may allow clinicians to provide more personalized care by combining the data from multiple sources into a single patient profile that reflects their whole person.

Traditional measurement based care requires that clinicians conduct assessments with their patients within the clinical encounter, limiting the scope of data collection to singular data points that do not capture real-world day-to-day functioning. In addition, this workflow is labor intensive and can lead to burnout for clinicians and patients.

Telemental health is a technology that can help expand the scope of patient measurements beyond the clinical office setting and enhance clinician engagement. Integrating electronic measurement based care tools with at-home telemental health can speed up delivery of assessments, mitigate administrative and clinical workflows, and address systemic needs by expanding access to treatment.

Incorporating measurement based care into telemental health can increase patient satisfaction by enabling patients to report their feelings and symptoms from the comfort of home. In turn, this can increase patient compliance with treatment and decrease the number of office visits required to treat a patient. It can also enhance the relationship between clinician and patient as well as help break down stigmas associated with mental illness.