The therapeutic environment has evolved to encompass a broad range of techniques and philosophies. Professionals treat an equally extensive array of problems, diagnoses, and conditions. A simple routine outcome monitoring or assessment tool is invaluable in ensuring optimal benefit across the spectrum of therapeutic approaches and consumer problems.
Utilizing outcome measurement tools is now a must in therapy. While providing evidence of “return on investment” for funders and improving both individual therapist and agency outcomes, routine outcome monitoring tools also allay concerns among clients, many of whom identify low confidence in the benefit of services as a major deterrent to seeking therapeutic help.
Putting Outcome Measurement Tools to Work
- Select an empirically supported, standardized assessment that is feasible for clinicians. Given the demands of the field and the multitude of “balls in the air” that therapists must juggle, a simple, empirically proven solution is preferable. The measures of the Partners for Change Outcome Management System, the Outcome Rating Scale and Session Rating Scale, for example, are reliable and valid, take only minutes to administer using Better Outcomes Now, and give you access to actionable data.
- Connect your outcome measurement tool to the work itself — to the individual goals of clients. While problem- and symptom-based tools cover many of the reasons for which people enter therapeutic services, the tools miss the target completely for relational and more idiosyncratic reasons for therapy. On the other hand, the Outcome Rating Scale allows for individually tailored goal setting while providing evidence of client benefit or more importantly, the lack thereof. With this alert, clinicians and clients have an opportunity to shift focus, revisit goals, or alter interventions before deterioration or dropout.
- Implement a tool that is not problem/diagnostic or orientation specific. While there are many good assessment tools for a variety of specific diagnoses or therapy approaches, having them all available on the front lines is not practical given the broad range of clients that clinicians typically see. Moreover, using different outcome measurement tools makes implementation and ongoing training more challenging. It also introduces confusion about data interpretation. Choosing a measurement tool like the Outcome Rating Scale allows a “one-size-fits-all” approach that is feasible, understandable, and therefore easier to implement.
In addition to providing quality care to clients, the current zeitgeist insists that we prove it — that we provide evidence of outcomes to funders and policy makers. Better Outcomes Now (BON), the outcome measurement tool created by Dr. Barry Duncan — the developer of the Partners for Change Outcome Management System (PCOMS) — enables you to be accountable and demonstrate your effectiveness while meeting measurement-based care accreditation standards. BON enables you to upgrade your paper-and-pencil assessment tools to a user-friendly system that administers, graphs, and analyzes data, in real time, for immediate use in therapy as well as in aggregate reporting.