There is no doubt that all patients deserve the very best care. So whether a psychotherapeutic treatment is actually working or not working is highly relevant. Therefore, outcomes – how patients are responding to treatment – absolutely must be monitored. And not just at the end of treatment; progress should be monitored closely right from the very start. Further, adjustments to the treatment should be made promptly if the current intervention is not leading to the desired change.
What is Outcomes-Informed Care?
Outcomes-Informed Care (also called Feedback-Informed Treatment) is an ongoing process of treatment review between client and clinician, typically achieved via a patient self-report questionnaire completed at regular intervals (i.e. weekly) throughout the treatment. When clinicians use the practice of informed care, they are soliciting consistent feedback from the patient regarding the patient’s overall distress, the frequency of certain behaviors (like eating symptoms) and the patient’s feelings about the therapy itself (i.e. is it meeting the patient’s needs and expectations).
Why do we practice Outcomes-Informed Care?
“Research strongly suggests that therapists who incorporate outcomes-informed care in their own practice are likely to achieve better treatment outcomes that those who do not.”
Reason 1) Feedback-informed treatment leads to a stronger therapeutic alliance. As part of a regular questionnaire, the client can safely share his/her ever-evolving feelings about the therapy relationship:
- Are the discussions in therapy feeling relevant and in line with the client’s needs and interests?
- Does the client feel comfortable with the overall treatment plan?
- Is the client feeling understood by the therapist?
Not surprisingly, if the client is encouraged to share when the therapy is not feeling quite right, it gives the therapist the opportunity to address the concerns promptly and do what it takes to help the relationship back into positive territory. You can see how this would lead to improved treatment adherence, lower drop-out rates and ultimately, a better outcome.
Reason 2) As I mentioned in the blog opening, receiving consistent feedback regarding the client’s improvement – as in, is the client actually getting better? – makes it possible for the therapist to promptly tweak or change the treatment to be most effective.
Reason 3) By tracking client outcomes, clinicians can demonstrate effective treatment protocols clearly and concretely to both policymakers and insurance providers. This results in increased funding, better coverage and reimbursement rates for the delivery of gold-standard treatments.
The Bottom Line
“The combination of measuring progress (i.e. monitoring) and providing feedback consistently yields clinically significant change. Rates of deterioration are cut in half, as is drop out. Include feedback about the client’s formal assessment of the relationship and the client is less likely to deteriorate, more likely to stay longer and twice as likely to achieve clinically significant change.”
With this knowledge of Outcomes Informed Care you are now more capable than ever to make an informed choice (pun intended!) when selecting your next treatment provider. Be sure to check back in with us next week when we launch our “2017 Columbus Park Year In Review” and proudly reveal details of our 2017 outcomes.
1 Brown, Jeb, Minami, Takuya. Outcomes Informed Care. Retrieved January 6, 2018 from https://psychoutcomes.org/COMMONS/OutcomesInformedCare
2 Duncan, Miller, Wampold & Hubble (2009); From Introduction in Heart & Soul of Change; p. 39; 2016 American Psychological Association.