Measuring, knowing, and then what?
There is a lot of measuring going on in mental healthcare, but not enough use is being made of the information from these measurements. This is what Edwin de Beurs concludes in his inaugural lecture ‘Measuring, knowing and then what?' on 27 November. The professor by special appointment of ROM and Benchmarking is campaigning for better use to be made of the results gained from measuring.
More and more use is being made of the mental health care system (GGZ) in our country. Because of our complex society, ageing population and improved treatment options, more and more people are being treated in the GGZ for psychological or psychiatric issues such as ADHD and depression. Yet, many still feel little benefit from these treatments. According to knowledge centre/think-tank# Stichting Benchmark GGZ, some 60 per cent of the patients benefit from treatment, which means 40 per cent do not. Better results can be achieved with two new developments in mental health care, De Beurs states in his lecture. Routine Outcome Monitoring, or ROM, is one of them.
ROM is the routine measurement of treatment outcomes. It involves patients or their practitioners regularly filling in short questionnaires about how they are doing. Around 40% of treatments are now being 'ROM’d', and that percentage is on the rise. De Beurs feels it is a missed opportunity if you only measure before and after, not during treatment. 'This should definitely take place, as it gives the health care professional important information.’
Another improvement, according to De Beurs, can be achieved with the benchmarking of ROM data. 'Benchmarking is a form of quality control where you continuously collect information about your performance and process information such as operation and practice management in order to learn how you can improve your level of care. It means you can copy good practice from others. The knowledge you gain from it you can use to improve your own process.'
Measuring is knowing, but just knowing by itself is not enough, De Beurs states. As a practitioner or manager in health care you also have to take action based on the information you have available. In many cases, practitioners don’t yet use the available ROM data in their treatment and managers don't use it for their quality assurance policy either. In some cases there is concern that the data about treatment outcomes will be used as a tool to attract funding. There is a danger that the available information will not be used at all and that an opportunity is missed to improve the mental health care system.' The chair has been instituted to strengthen the scientific basis of ROM and benchmarking and to promote the responsible use and interpretation of the data.
Edwin de Beurs is head of scientific research at Stichting Benchmark GGZ (SBG). He obtained his PhD in 1993 on a study of the treatment of panic disorder with agoraphobia. He then spent three years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researching panic disorders and was Associate Professor at the department of Psychiatry of the Leiden University Medical Centre, responsible for the implementation of ROM.
(24 November 2015)