measurement based care behavioral health (MBC) is a method of assessing and tracking patients’ progress in mental health treatment. It is an evidence-based practice that improves patient outcomes, enhances clinical decision making, and promotes communication between patients and providers. It also enhances clinical efficiency and patient adherence to treatment.
Many mental health providers are familiar with using a systematic evaluation of patient progress to determine how effective their treatment is. MBC is an effective approach to identifying the root causes of behavioral health symptoms and to improving patient outcomes, and can be used with all types of treatments including cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, medication, and medication management.
To ensure that clients are responding to their treatment, clinicians must use a standard for expected client progress — which is not the same for every client, of course. The key is to set a consistent baseline and then measure progress at regular intervals. Then, adjust the treatment as needed to improve the outcome.
The process of measuring progress is often called “progress monitoring” or “outcome monitoring.” It involves systematic data collection on client status, usually through the completion of validated questionnaires or other tools. Clinicians then review the data with patients and alter their approaches when clients are not able to meet their targets.
Symptoms and severity fluctuate over time, so it is essential for therapists to have up-to-date symptom information from clients. It’s best to have clients complete rating scales during sessions or right before they leave so that clinicians can receive a more accurate assessment of their progress and treatment effectiveness.
In addition, the results of these symptom ratings can be used to highlight areas that are lagging, or where clients may need additional support. This can help to identify patients at risk of suicide or those who are in need of additional psychotherapy, or other interventions that will help them stay on track and achieve their goals.
The VA is a leader in measurement-based care practices and has created specialized software to track Veterans’ mental health outcomes. The system is called Oslin’s Behavioral Health Laboratory and is now used in some 75% of the VA’s mental health facilities.