8 Ways Measurement-Based Care Improves Client Outcomes

May 24, 2024

When you set out on a trip, you need to know where you’re going, where you started, and track your location along the way.

The same goes for mental health treatment. Measurement-based care (MBC) is like a GPS for your mental health treatment plan. It uses validated questionnaires to track client progress, removing subjectivity and guesswork from your evaluation. This way, you know exactly how your patient is doing and can make any adjustments to their plan in real time. 

Using measurement-based care in your practice used to mean shuffling around paper-based questionnaires and manually entering client-reported results, but today is a brighter day. Companies like Greenspace Health have digitized measurement-based care to help it seamlessly integrate into the systems and workflows of mental health practitioners.

Technology makes measurement-based care easy

Greenspace Health makes measurement-based care easy so practitioners can survey their clients accurately and often. According to Tanya Scarapicchia, PhD and Director of Partnerships at Greenspace, “the true essence of measurement-based care is the notion of routine. We’re not talking about clinicians just evaluating patients before they start their treatment and afterwards. This is really something that’s done throughout their treatment process that helps guide clinical treatment.”

“The true essence of measurement-based care is the notion of routine. We’re not talking about clinicians just evaluating patients before they start their treatment and afterwards. This is really something that’s done throughout their treatment process that helps guide clinical treatment.”

Tanya Scarapicchia

When you ask patients to fill out their questionnaires online, you save hours of time. Time you can now spend directly helping your clients.

New to measurement-based care? Use a questionnaire template in your Practice Better account, automate it, and send to your clients to fill out before your next appointment. It’s already in your Practice Better account.

How measurement-based care can benefit your practice

Some of the biggest ways in which MBC supports better patient care include: 

1. Objective assessment 

You don’t treat your patients based on vibes, so you need tools to assess progress accurately. MBC relies on standardized measurement tools like the PHQ9 (for depression) and GAD-7 (for anxiety), which provide an objective and quantifiable assessment of a patient’s symptoms, functioning, and progress. 

2. Early detection of issues 

Regular monitoring through MBC allows healthcare providers to detect client changes early.

As Tanya says, “We sometimes hear from clinicians that they’re able to uncover new challenges or new kinds of issues that clients were experiencing that they might not have overtly said in therapy.” Then, a practitioner can act to address emerging symptoms or issues before they worsen.

“We sometimes hear from clinicians that they’re able to uncover new challenges or new kinds of issues that clients were experiencing that they might have not overtly said in therapy.”

Tanya Scarapicchia

3. Individualized treatment

For any wellness practitioner, individualized care is the cornerstone of treatment, and MBC helps make it happen. By tracking a patient’s progress, MBC facilitates the tailoring of treatment plans to each unique individual’s specific needs and responses. Providers can adjust interventions based on the measured outcomes.

4. Shared decision making

MBC encourages clients to think about their care and make decisions. According to Tanya, some clients “thought they weren’t improving or just kind of had this feeling that they were stuck,” but MBC allowed them to ask, “Why was I at a low point there?” When patients think about their symptoms and collaborate with their practitioners, they understand their progress and contribute to treatment decisions.

5. Treatment accountability

MBC improves accountability in the treatment process by establishing clear benchmarks and goals. By “seeing their own results,” clients have shared ownership over the treatment and can actively participate. According to Tanya, this engagement is a “critical component to measurement-based care.”

6. Better therapeutic relationships

Measurement-based care can make you an even better clinician. The Brief Revised Working Alliance Inventory, or BRWAI, measures the clinician-client relationship to help predict clinical outcome success. Tanya says many clinicians are grateful for the report card as it gives them transparent insights into how to develop their clinical skills and where they’re thriving.

7. Increased clinical efficiency

Ever wondered which intervention in your toolkit is strongest? MBC can highlight which of your modalities are working most consistently. Practitioners can prioritize treatments based on measured outcomes, making client care more efficient. It can also highlight what’s not working.

8. Increased client retention

All of the above advantages serve to keep clients in treatment and keep them referring other clients. Clinics using MBC have noticed enhanced client retention and reduced treatment dropout rates, notes Tanya. If clients know what they’re doing, know how they’re doing it, and are sharing in the process, they’re more likely to stick with it.

How to integrate measurement-based care into your practice

While MBC promises big benefits, the primary concern often lies in engagement — will clients participate? 

When practitioners educate their clients on the benefits of measurement-based care, clients engage. They then get substantial value from seeing their progress laid out in a tangible, understandable format. Seeing where they’ve come from can provide ongoing empowerment. 

An example of the PCL-5 form for PTSD assessment within Practice Better. This form is useful for measurement-based care.
An example of the PCL-5 form for PTSD assessment within Practice Better.

The role of technology in measurement-based care

With the right tech tools, practitioners can make measurement-based care a breeze. A bit of initial setup can allow you to track client progress over time by automating forms inside or outside of your EHR.

Greenspace Health helps clinics transition from paper-based to tech-powered. The ability to streamline and automate specific processes helps ensure that practitioners can invest less time in paperwork and more time in patient care.

Care, made to measure

With support from forward-thinking practitioners like you, MBC can move from the early stages of adoption to becoming a standard of care. 

According to Tanya, only 20% of practitioners regularly use measurement-based care in practice, so there’s a lot of opportunity ahead. Leaders like you can help incorporate MBC into your practice. 

Tanya encourages you to start somewhere, even if it feels small. It’s essential to learn from your experiences and level up from there. 

Because getting started is better than being perfect, your clients will agree.

About Tanya

Tanya Scarapicchia, PhD, is the Director of Partnerships at Greenspace Health. Before joining Greenspace, she was a Senior Consultant at Shift Health, a strategy consultancy firm serving the health research and innovation ecosystem. Tanya also spent several years working in Public Health and was actively involved in evaluating and implementing numerous provincial programs. Tanya is passionate about using evidence-based approaches to promote mental health and well-being for all.

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