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Why You Should Educate Your Patients About the Benefits of Measurement-Based Care

Although behavioral health providers are fast embracing measurement-based care as an effective approach that generates better results for patients, patients themselves are—on the whole—less knowledgeable about this methodology and its benefits. Providers have an important role to play in educating patients about measurement-based care. As the behavioral health industry learns more about this care model, it will not only yield more positive outcomes across the general patient population, it will also become a strong marketing tool to set your practice apart.

Patients typically seek a behavioral health provider based on a referral from a trusted source, such as a physician, or based on word-of-mouth from other patients. The average patient does not specifically seek providers who offer measurement-based care.

The first step in measurement-based care education, then, should start with your referral sources and the patients you already serve.

Let your referral sources know that you use this care model, and show them the research indicating its superior results. Make sure current patients understand this care model and why you’re using it. These two actions increase the likelihood that new patients will have some awareness of the benefits of measurement-based care when they choose your practice.

How to Talk to Patients About Measurement-Based Care

Every clinician wants patient buy-in on a treatment plan. When patients understand a plan and approach it with confidence, they’re more likely to adhere to it and become an active collaborator with the clinician. This, in turn, improves patient retention. Patient buy-in is especially relevant to a system like measurement-based care that requires patients to faithfully fill out symptom assessments prior to appointments.

It’s therefore important for clinicians to emphasize measurement-based care in a way that builds patient confidence and enthusiasm.

This should begin the moment a patient first contacts you. Your entire practice, including office staff, should be knowledgeable about the basics of measurement-based care and why you do it. New patients should understand up front that filling out symptom assessments will be a core component of every visit, including their intake appointments. Make it an organic part of the culture. In general, patients will accept this the way they accept symptom screening from their physical health provider, which is treated as an assumed step in the clinical encounter.

Most importantly, each clinician should explain to patients how measurement-based care will benefit them.

  • Better results. Studies show that patients treated under measurement-based care have better outcomes than those who aren’t. Help your patients understand that this is the best approach to find relief from their distressing symptoms.
  • Efficient appointments. Point out to patients that reviewing their assessments ahead of time will give both of you more time during the clinical encounter to focus on their treatment plan. Again, this plays into the patient’s motivation to find relief from symptoms quickly.
  • Easier symptom reporting. Without assessment tools, patients must do most of the work to identify and accurately describe their symptoms. It can be hard for someone who isn’t trained in behavioral health to know exactly what symptoms they should look for and how they should report it. The symptoms assessments save patients this burden and teach them how to describe their distress in helpful ways. It can even teach patients how to spot recurring or worsening symptoms sooner, making it possible to respond to symptom relapse before the symptoms become overwhelming.
  • Catch unrecognized issues. Explain to patients that symptom screening can catch behavioral health issues that they may not even be aware of yet. For example, a patient might initially seek treatment for social anxiety, but discover via symptom screener that they also rate high on depression symptoms.

When the patient’s assessment results begin to show improved symptoms over time, show it to them. Let them be encouraged by the progress they’ve made, and actively involve them in discussions about which aspect(s) of their treatment plan brought about the most change.

Set Your Practice Apart

As the behavioral health industry continues to embrace this model, patients’ interest in it may begin to increase organically.

“Consumers are getting more sophisticated in their decision-making, and more aware of what ‘best practices’ are,” says David Lischner, Chief Clinical Officer and co-founder of Valant. As more practitioners adopt measurement-based care, more patients will become aware of it and seek out clinicians who implement it. Practices that already have years of measurement-based results to show will have the advantage.

For now, the best way to set your practice apart using measurement-based care is to talk to those in your referral network about its benefits. Share with them the objective patient results that your practice has achieved. This reputation for results will help grow your referral list, which will grow word-of-mouth about your practice.

Valant Makes It Easy

Valant’s behavioral health EHR can help you integrate measurement-based care into your workflow for a smoother patient experience.

When you use Valant, patients will receive their symptom assessments automatically at the appropriate time, and their responses will auto-populate into the clinician’s notes for convenient reference. You’ll also gain access to charts and other visualization tools so that both clinician and patient can “see” the progress of patient symptoms. Best of all, you can do this and much more without leaving the EHR that runs the rest of your daily workflow.

Schedule a demo of Valant today to see how we can help put measurement-based care to work for you.