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If you’re considering measurement-based care for your behavioral health practice, you probably know the benefits: better insight into patient progress, more targeted treatment, and improved patient outcomes, to name just a few.

However, several barriers to the implementation of measurement-based treatment may slow the adoption of this method among clinicians. This may be the case for your behavioral health clinic.

If you’re looking to drive adoption of measurement-based care, you’ll need to become familiar with the most common barriers and how to overcome them. In most cases, the right practice management software can solve the problem.

Barrier 1: Perceived Administrative Burden

Any new system introduced to the workplace naturally raises fears of more “busywork.” In truth, measuring patient outcomes did require more work back in the era of paper records. Before digital storage, all patient assessments had to be written, transcribed, filed, and searched out later for reference.

However, the digital age has made measurement-based care a pain-free, seamless part of the therapeutic process. Automation allows you to send patients links to their assessment forms, which they can fill out at their leisure. The right EHR system will automatically integrate this completed survey into the appropriate patient file, and even into the practitioner’s notes—no filing, no typing, no searching needed on your end.

The key is to find an EHR system designed for behavioral health that has this functionality built in. Otherwise, you’re adding a second software system on top of the system that runs your daily operations. Valant software was engineered from the ground up with measurement-based care in mind, and can make it an unobtrusive step in the therapeutic process.

Barrier 2: Choosing the Right Measures

Are your providers familiar with the validated symptom rating scales available to measure different mental health conditions? Unless they’ve been trained in measurement-based care, they may be in the dark. A curated library of assessment tools can clear up the confusion and help clinicians sort through their options. Consider the following trusted sources:

  • The Kennedy Forum supplement is a good starting point.
  • CME resources may offer access to an assessment tool library.
  • Valant software offers its users an expansive library of assessment tools, vetted by the top behavioral health care industry experts.

Barrier 3: Lack of Incentive

Incentives for using measurement-based care have improved, but barriers remain.

The 96127 billing code allows providers to report when they’ve administered an outcome measure and used the results in a clinical encounter. In some cases, this can increase reimbursement by up to 20 percent. This is a significant improvement from the early days of measurement-based care.

Unfortunately, while these reimbursements are approved at the national level, they may not be well-implemented at the regional level. It’s critical to educate yourself and your providers regarding how to get paid for measurement-based care.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate with payers. Help them understand the positive outcomes of measurement-based care, and the tie between mental and physical health outcomes. Improving behavioral health can have a significant impact on the cost of physical care. What’s more, behavioral medicine is moving toward value-based care—a system wherein providers are paid for the quality of patient outcomes rather than volume of treatment given. Outcomes must be measurable before they can be reimbursed. Those who cannot adapt to this trend may be left behind.

Sometimes, behavioral health providers see the incentives for measurement-based care but worry that patients won’t. For easy adoption by patients, establish evaluations and measurements as a foundational part of your practice’s operations. Patients should understand from day one that these assessments are part and parcel of a provider’s process. Reassure them that the assessments will increase the likelihood of treatment success.

Barrier 4: Cultural Resistance Within the Field

Measurement-based care has historically been a controversial subject within behavioral health. Some feared it would burden organic discussion between patient and practitioner, push therapists toward one-size-fits-all treatment, and disrupt the process of developing rapport with patients. The prevalence of these stereotypes has lessened over time, but they still persist to some degree.

Put your practitioners at ease by educating them on the basics of measurement-based care. Mental health training programs and residencies do not emphasize this model, meaning many providers simply lack the knowledge needed for buy-in. Find training on measurement-based care through trusted sources like the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and other sources of continuing mental health education.

In addition, allow the data to speak for itself. Research has shown improved outcomes for patients treated under measurement-based care, as well as better patient/provider relationships and greater participation by patients in their own treatment plans. Give providers the data they need to dispel entrenched myths and become confident in the benefits of measurable outcomes.

Break Down Barriers with Valant

Valant’s Behavioral Health EHR was designed to overcome the common barriers associated with setting up a measurement-based behavioral health practice.

  • Our automation process takes the work out of administering assessments to patients, and automatically incorporates assessments into provider notes, saving everyone time while enhancing treatment outcomes.
  • With over 65 rating scales included in the software, clinicians will never be at a loss for how to measure patient outcomes.
  • Valant allows you to visualize data graphically and “show” patients how their treatment is progressing, which supports patient-clinician collaboration and data-driven decision making. This, in turn, increases patient and clinician confidence in the measurement-based method.
  • The data gathered will help you make a case to payers for the value of assessments and measurements.

Request a free demo today and see how Valant can support your implementation of measurement-based care.