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Behavioral Health Benchmarking: What You Need to Know

Behavioral Health Benchmarking: What You Need to Know

Behavioral health providers often turn to companies such as Horizon Health for mental health consulting services designed to assist with improving their existing programs, which  is a smart move. Consulting services can offer the fresh perspective providers need to implement real and positive change. It all starts with behavioral health benchmarking.

Benchmarking is a term that was first developed for computer hardware and software. It was introduced as a way to measure computer performance by putting components through a series of tests and measuring the results. These days, however, the term is used much more broadly. Yet its definition has remained consistent throughout.

You Cannot Manage What You Do Not Measure

Benchmarking is measuring performance against established norms. That is pretty much it in a nutshell. In trying to explain how important benchmarking is to behavioral health programs, we like to say, You cannot manage what you do not measure.

How can you know that your existing programs are meeting KPIs if you are not measuring those KPIs? Furthermore, are you even focusing on the right KPIs for each of your programs? They can differ from one program to the next.

Benchmarking is based on developing the most appropriate KPIs and then tracking them incessantly. It is all built on determining the most appropriate data, collecting it, and then analyzing and reporting it.

Our CQI+ Standard

Horizon Health utilizes the CQI+ outcome measurement system as our standard for benchmarking. CQI+ is a comprehensive, industry-leading quality improvement system originally developed by one of our subsidiaries, Mental Health Outcomes (MHO). It is rooted in the concept of facilitating continuous quality improvement through a systematic approach that is repeatable time and again.

Measuring outcomes requires looking at the right data. Of chief concern is whether patients are actually getting better. From a CQI+ perspective, this means measuring:

  • Patient progress
  • Symptom reduction
  • Functional improvement
  • Patient satisfaction

If patients are not showing steady improvements across all performance indicators, the data will show it. Changes can be implemented, and the results measured again. We do this continually to improve care quality and patient outcomes on an ongoing basis.

Benchmarking Starts with a Baseline

If your organization is not currently benchmarking your mental health programs, it is never too late to start. Benchmarking begins with establishing a baseline. Look at each of your programs and determine which KPIs are most appropriate for measuring success. Then go ahead and measure them over a significant amount of time. Now, you have your baseline.

Future benchmarking utilizes the same KPIs. With each assessment, whether you choose to assess monthly, bimonthly, semiannually, or annually, you compare the results against your baseline. You also compare the results of each measurement against the others that came before it.

Benchmarking in this way creates a steady stream of data that can be reported in any number of ways. Individual data points can be looked at for signs of progress or regression. Collectively, the data clearly shows the direction in which each program is heading.

Nothing Happens by Chance

As a behavioral health management and consulting company, we operate on the understanding that nothing happens by chance. We employ benchmarking for the simple fact that the only way to know whether mental health programs are working is to measure the results. Benchmarking is a fundamental way of measuring.

If you are not currently benchmarking your mental health programs, we encourage you to start doing so. We are here to help. By implementing our CQI+ system, we can help you understand where your programs currently are and how you can improve them moving forward.

Let’s Get to Work, Together

Contact us to learn more about how Horizon Health can help you start a behavioral health program or take an existing program to new heights.