Monitoring a patient’s treatment response has become standard practice for physical health conditions. For example, medical providers use regular blood tests to track how a patient responds to their diabetes medication.
Progress monitoring is less common in behavioral health. However, the shift to value-based care has put pressure on many behavioral health providers to monitor client progress and track outcomes. This makes progress monitoring vital for the success of any behavioral health organization.
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What is progress monitoring?
Progress monitoring (PM) uses evidence-based measures to track meaningful changes in a behavioral health client’s life. These changes are measured at regular intervals during the treatment process. Clinicians discuss these results with the client.
Some examples of PM tools used in behavioral health include:
Urine tests for substance use
Client attendance in therapy sessions
Neuropsychological tests of brain function
Not every individual will have the same response to a particular treatment, even for the same condition. Monitoring a client’s symptoms over time is one of the best ways to know whether a particular treatment method is working or not.
Barriers to progress monitoring
Although regular PM is important for client progress, there are plenty of obstacles that can prevent behavioral health providers from fully implementing it. Some of these include:
Lack of organizational infrastructure
High staff turnover
Lack of knowledge of how to PM appropriately
Heavy clinician or support staff workloads
Not recognizing the value of PM
Fears of detracting from clinical work
However, evidence suggests that PM can help promote efficiency in a behavioral health organization by helping to guide treatment planning. Clinicians can identify deterioration in clients sooner, and can even become better at predicting client deterioration. PM helps reduce treatment failure and readmissions, which not only is better for the client, but it is also cost-effective for providers and facilities.
How to conduct successful progress monitoring
What does an effective PM plan look like? It should follow these steps:
Choose a tool to help collect, store, organize, and analyze data (this may be part of an existing EHR system)
Review the data that you find
Discuss your findings with the client
Conduct regular clinical staff meetings to discuss data
Of course, this is a general outline. Your organization’s specific PM strategy may vary depending on the tools you use and the data you collect. That will also depend on factors such as your client base, the conditions you treat, and the types of treatment methods you use in your practice.
When discussing results with a client, make sure to discuss not just their current condition, but their progress over time. Clinicians should also discuss strengths as well as setbacks, and take a collaborative approach to interpreting the symptoms and data. (These same approaches also work when discussing PM findings with all clinicians at staff meetings.)
Starting a PM plan can seem daunting. However, the right tools can make the process simple and flexible for your behavioral health organization.
At BestNotes, we’re committed to making life easier for behavioral health clinicians. Our OutcomeTools takes the work out of outcome studies and PM so you can focus on helping your clients and keeping your organization running smoothly. Get in touch with us today to get started on making your behavioral health practice a success.