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The Top Five Questions on Revised Behavioral Health Care Outcome Measures Standard

Mar 23, 2018 | 1072 Views

Lynn_BerryBy Lynn Berry, MLA
Project Director, Department of Standards and Survey Methods
The Joint Commission

How does an individual receiving behavioral health care (BHC) feel on a particular day? Does he feel good, bad or the same? Is she improving or declining? To help answer these questions, measurement-based care is an important tool for BHC organizations. 

On January 1, a revised outcome measures standard for BHC became effective. The standard requires Joint Commission accredited BHC organizations to use a standardized tool or instrument to assess outcomes of care, treatment or services for the population(s) served.  

Here are the top five most commonly asked questions about implementation of the standard: 

1. Does the revised standard apply to my organization? What about rural hospitals and outpatient facilities with psychiatric beds? 

The revised standard applies to any organization accredited under The Joint Commission’s BHC program. For rural hospitals and outpatient facilities with psychiatric beds—if the facility or a particular unit is surveyed under the Comprehensive Accreditation Manual for Behavioral Health Care—the standard will apply to that facility or unit. If an organization is accredited only under the Comprehensive Accreditation Manual for Hospitals—the standard does not apply. 

2. How much money does my organization need to spend to meet this requirement? 

There are a lot of tool options available, and your organization does not necessarily need to spend any money. Many tools or instruments have no cost associated with them at all. Technology should not be an obstacle either. There are tools that are “paper and pencil” based that do not require the use of technology to complete and analyze. Organizations will need to do some research to find what is available and best fits their needs. Some possible options can be found on The Joint Commission’s website. There are so many different types of tools available that cost should not be an obstacle in meeting the requirement. 

3. What specific tool should my organization use? 

The Joint Commission does not require or endorse a specific tool. BHC organizations should look for a tool that is appropriate for the population served and is one that the organization can manage. The tool must already be established with science to back it up. Examples of tools are available on the website

4. We can’t find a tool that works for our organization. What should we do? 

Every BHC organization can use at least one tool. If an organization feels there is nothing specific to its population served, a broader tool may be the answer. This could be as simple as asking the individual served how he or she is feeling—good, bad or the same? Known as a “global distress” tool, this type of tool may be high-level, but can still help organizations begin to see what’s going on. Your organization’s tool of choice does not have to be overly complicated or specific to the type of treatment provided.  

5. Where can I learn more about the revised standard? 

The Joint Commission recently issued an R3 Report on the revised standard. The report provides in-depth rationale and evidence for the standard, as well as highlights all of the literature reviewed in its development. In addition, The Joint Commission website has several resources available to help BHC organizations meet the requirement.

Lynn Berry is a project director in the Department of Standards and Survey Methods at The Joint Commission. In this role, she is responsible for all standards-related projects for the Behavioral Health Care accreditation program.

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