The five major accrediting bodies for behavioral health services have agreed on a common set of performance measures for facilities but will not necessarily make the indicators part of their accreditation standards.
Accrediting groups and others in the industry said the draft set of 35 indicators for access, quality and outcomes is intended to be a starting point to give payers and consumers better information about providers.
"There is no commitment that all the accrediting bodies are going to adopt these whole hog," said Deborah Wilkerson, vice president of research and quality improvement at CARF-The Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission, Tucson, Ariz.
"There is a commitment for (the indicators) to be considered in our standard-setting and accreditation process," Wilkerson said.
The collaborating accrediting bodies included CARF, the Council on Accreditation for Children and Family Services, the Council on Quality and Leadership in Support of Persons with Disabilities, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, and the National Committee for Quality Assurance. The report is titled "A Proposed Consensus Set of Indicators for Behavioral Health."
The proposed indicators will provide a foundation for debate at a March forum on performance measures being conducted by HHS' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
"What we lack in the field is a common way to measure (performance) across the field," said Ron Manderscheid, chief of the administration's Center for Mental Health Services. He said this shortcoming makes it more difficult for substance-abuse treatment providers to demonstrate the value of their services to payers.
Developing the indicators took more than two years and was facilitated by the American College of Mental Health Administration, Pittsburgh. The report also includes common language for performance evaluation, a hierarchy for developing and defining indicators, and a list of desirable attributes for indicators.
Although the organizations have agreed on what is important to measure, the practical problems of data collection, measurement, implementation and reporting still need to be addressed, the report said.