Statistical Benchmarks for Process Measures of Quality of Care for Mental and Substance Use Disorders

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ObjectiveBenchmarks, representing the level of performance achieved by the best-performing providers, can be used to set achievable goals for improving care, but they have not heretofore been available for mental health care. This article describes the application of a method for developing statistical benchmarks for 12 process measures of quality of care for mental and substance use disorders.MethodsTwelve quality measures—taken from a core measure set selected by a multistakeholder panel through a formal consensus process—were constructed from 1994–1995 administrative data on care received by Medicaid beneficiaries in six states. Conformance rates were calculated at the provider level and presented as means, 90th-percentile results, and statistical benchmarks. Sample sizes for each measure ranged from 356 to 4,494 providers and from 1,205 to 78,627 cases. Three measures involved antidepressant treatment, two involved antipsychotic treatment, and one involved mood stabilizers for bipolar disorder. Six other measures involved follow-up treatment visits.ResultsBenchmarks for provider-level performance ranged from 59.7 percent to 97.7 percent, markedly higher than the mean results, which ranged from 9.4 percent to 65.4 percent. Benchmark results varied widely—in contrast to results for these measures at the 90th percentile of providers and in contrast to performance standards that apply the same numerical goal across varied clinical processes.ConclusionsStatistical benchmarks can be applied to results from quality assessment of mental health care. Further research should examine whether incorporating benchmarks into quality improvement activities leads to better mental health care and substance-related care and improved outcomes.

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