Toward great accountability in mental health care

Patient and Provider
Editor's note:

This article is part of the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy, which is a partnership between Economic Studies at Brookings and the University of Southern California Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics. The Initiative aims to inform the national health care debate with rigorous, evidence-based analysis leading to practical recommendations using the collaborative strengths of USC and Brookings. The following is the abstract of a journal article that was originally published in Psychiatric Services on June 23, 2022. 

Lack of accountability contributes to the gap between best practices and potential outcomes. Few mental health providers routinely practice evidence-based care. In fact, within the mental health field, there is significant controversy over the use of evidence-based practices. Lack of accountability affects individuals receiving care at the patient level, provider level, and systems level. The authors identify several impediments to accountability in behavioral health care. These include failure to develop a diverse, well-trained workforce; challenges in measurement; misalignment of payment incentives; and misguided regulations. Accountability arrangements typically consist of several elements: a clear articulation of goals, objectives, or standards; metrics so that progress toward achieving goals can be tracked; and consequences for insurers, providers, and professionals for achieving or failing to achieve objectives. To advance system goals, the full complement of accountability tools should be consistently applied to all sources of behavioral health care and supports. The authors focus on three sets of accountability tools—performance metrics, payment incentives, and regulatory standards—that when implemented thoughtfully can help move the field toward more positive outcomes in behavioral health.

Read the full journal article in Psychiatric Services here.

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