It's hard to imagine adding anything else to a busy mental health practitioner's schedule. But what if you added a tool that actually created a bit more space in their schedule and made patient care more efficient?
Mental and behavioral healthcare professionals can benefit from using straightforward health outcome measures to deliver quality care without contributing to a backlog of work. Technology can help you work more efficiently and improve health outcomes by monitoring patient symptoms, well-being, and care experience. Learn how to determine which health outcomes to measure and which tools can help you facilitate the process.
Which Health Outcome Measures Are Important to Behavioral Health?
A health outcome metric measures the effectiveness of healthcare services on a patient's health. You can use health outcome metrics to assess the impact of a healthcare intervention on a patient's health status or quality of life. Information derived can help organizations provide collaborative care that shapes health policy. There are several health outcome metrics that can help providers measure the effectiveness of behavioral health care.
Changes in the severity of mental health symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, or substance use disorders, can be used as a measure of health outcomes. It’s crucial to measure symptoms frequently to determine whether the patient responds to treatment fully, partially, or not at all.
Having this information is essential for adjusting treatment accordingly.
Primary care may include evaluating symptoms related to increased incidence of heart attack or heart diseases like hypertension or obesity. However, in BHHS, specifically in mental illness, risk factors that can help you assess health outcomes fall into three categories:
- Biological risk factors: These are risk factors related to a person's genetics or biology. Examples include chronic disease, family history of mental health disorders, prenatal exposure to drugs or alcohol, and certain medical conditions.
- Psychological risk factors: These risk factors are related to a person's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Examples include the prevalence of stress, low self-esteem, and a history of trauma or abuse.
- Environmental risk factors: These are risk factors related to a person's environment and social context. Examples include health disparities like poverty, social isolation, and exposure to violence or other traumatic events.
Clinicians should examine the extent to which a patient can perform activities of daily living, such as working, caring for themselves, and participating in social activities. Functionality is often a measure of health outcomes, as it can provide information about a patient's overall ability to engage in the activities that are important to them. By assessing functionality, mental and behavioral health care professionals can better understand a patient's needs and develop treatment plans that address functional impairments.
Quality of Life
To assess a patient’s overall well-being and satisfaction with life, you can use the World Health Organization's Quality of Life Scale (WHOQOL). The WHOQOL measures a person's overall well-being and satisfaction with life in several domains, including physical health, psychological health, social relationships, and the environment.
Another option is to use patient self-reported outcome measures, which allow patients to report on their own quality of life and well-being. These measures can be collected through surveys or interview questionnaires, providing valuable insights into the patient's perspectives on their quality of life.
Measures of patient satisfaction with care, such as the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) survey, can be used to measure health outcomes in behavioral health care.
The rate at which patients experience a return of symptoms or a worsening of their condition after treatment can serve as a measure of health outcomes in behavioral health care.
Measuring Health Outcomes: Digital Tools That Help
Several types of technology come to mind when thinking of health outcome measurement. For example, organizations can use comprehensive EHRs to track and measure various outcomes, such as.
- Health outcomes: Changes in vital signs, lab test results, and symptoms
- Process outcomes: Timeliness of care
- Structural outcomes: Availability of resources
However, EHRs are just the beginning. Patient engagement software gives organizations and clinicians even more tools to measure outcomes. Different types of surveys can capture patient-reported data, and choosing the appropriate survey will depend on the specific needs and goals of the healthcare organization.
For instance, the CaredFor app includes templates for self-evaluation and feedback surveys that you can use to gather valuable insights for your organization. Surveys can help you improve your services by understanding what is and isn’t working. Here’s a closer look at the different types of surveys you can use to measure and improve outcomes.
Alumni Feedback Surveys
A behavioral health organization can collect alumni feedback from former patients and clients. These surveys help gather input on the patient's care and identify areas for improvement.
Clinicians can administer alumni feedback surveys in various ways, including through email, phone, or online alumni programs. These surveys may include questions about the patient's overall experience with the organization, the effectiveness of treatment, and the support received during and after treatment.
By gathering and acting on alumni feedback, organizations can enhance the quality of care as well as outcomes of current and future patients.
Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) Survey
SDOH are factors affecting the health outcomes of people at local, national, and global levels. These factors impact the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age.
Some common examples of social determinants of health to include in your survey are:
- Income and wealth: Higher income and wealth are associated with better health outcomes.
- Education: Higher levels of education are linked to better health outcomes.
- Employment: Unemployment and job insecurity are associated with worse health outcomes.
- Housing: Adequate and affordable housing is associated with better health outcomes.
- Social support: Strong social support networks are associated with better health outcomes.
- Environmental factors: Air quality, water quality, and access to green spaces can significantly impact health outcomes.
Addressing the social determinants of health drives public health improvement and reduces disparities and inequities. Interventions may involve addressing economic, social, and environmental factors that contribute to health inequities (like poverty, discrimination, and environmental degradation).
Patient Satisfaction Surveys
Digital patient satisfaction surveys save time and give you information that can significantly impact health outcomes in several ways. We know that patients who are satisfied with their care are more likely to follow their treatment plan and take medications as prescribed, which can improve their health outcomes.
They’re also more likely to communicate openly with their healthcare providers and ask questions about their care, which can ensure that they fully understand their treatment plan and follow it correctly. Satisfied patients are more engaged and take an active role in managing their health, which can also improve their health outcomes.
When patients feel heard and respected, they’re more likely to follow through with recommended care and seek medical attention when needed. With the right tools, you can quickly deploy digital surveys to ensure your patients are pleased with all dimensions of their care.
Investing in the Right Technology Saves Time and Improves Lives
Mental and behavioral health care professionals can use technology to monitor and improve patient symptoms, well-being, and the entire care experience. Healthcare systems can use evidence-based health outcome metrics to measure the effectiveness of behavioral health care and include symptom improvement, risk factors, functionality, quality of life, patient satisfaction, and relapse rates.
Digital tools like electronic health records and patient engagement software can help you more easily measure, assess, and keep track of health outcomes, including patients’ self-reported data in real time.
Using technology to measure health outcomes can help your organization improve care and identify areas for improvement. Connect with us to learn more about how ContinuumCloud’s comprehensive EHR and the CaredFor patient engagement platform can help you drive better health outcomes.