Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Outcomes Measurement Quickly Becoming a Business Imperative: Financial Gain Awaits Those Who Measure and Move Forward

Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Outcomes Measurement Quickly Becoming a Business Imperative: Financial Gain Awaits Those Who Measure and Move Forward

Article excerpt

The behavioral health field is increasingly shifting its value proposition away from productivity measures and toward outcomes. The motivation comes from the fact that payers are focusing on the value of treatments and the return on their investment: Are the people being treated getting better?

And make no mistake, financial gain will follow the best outcomes.

Behavioral health professionals are familiar with a number of outcomes-management tools, but the need to track patients' progress with them is becoming a business imperative. In addition, new tools that are emerging for improved outcomes assessment and management will help leaders establish accountability in the changing healthcare system.

"The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is pretty dead set on showing medical necessity," says Willa Presmanes, MEd, MA, outcomes research, behavioral healthcare, MTM Services. Presmanes is the creator of the DLA-20 (Daily Living Activities 20) tool, a free research-backed outcomes tool that measures mental illness' impact on patients' daily living areas, such as regular eating and sleeping schedules.

"The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has said there has to be accountability," Presmanes says. "If mental health centers are going to get opportunities to serve new clients--clients who didn't have insurance before the ACA--there's going to have to be accountability as to who gets into what services. So whatever assessment tools you pick, you need to be able to tie them to the level of care."

This means that more mental health professionals are going to need to measure symptoms and show that their treatments are resulting in an improvement in functioning.

"The treatment plan should be designed to improve functioning and symptoms, or at least prevent their worsening," she says.

A. Lee Solomon, MD, Behavioral Health Associates, Chattanooga, Tenn., says he uses assessment tools first for diagnostic purposes to rate the severity of patients' illness, then to monitor patients' progress and the effectiveness of his therapies. His goal, he says, is not just improvement, but remission.

"In depression, all the studies show that patients who improve with antidepressants but are not completely well have a tendency to relapse more often that patients who are completely well," he says. "So just getting patients better is not a good enough goal. …

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