Articles
August 11, 2022

The Practice-Boosting Power of Measurement-Based Care

Research shows that implementing Measurement-Based Care reduces client dropout rates — improving overall outcomes, reducing therapist burnout, and increasing practice revenue.

Client Dropout is a problem to take seriously

Most mental health therapists know that keeping clients engaged in therapy is no small feat. In fact, research suggests that as many as one in five clients will end therapy prematurely before realizing the benefits of treatment. 

This drop off presents a number of challenges for clinicians and practice owners. Clinicians can experience burnout from clients leaving and may interpret the decision as a reflection of their therapeutic abilities. An early study found that therapists cited client dropout as the third most stressful aspect of practice, right behind therapy's emotional cost and difficulties navigating the therapeutic relationship.

Dropout also significantly impacts group practice owners. For example, a practice with 10 therapists, each with a caseload of 25 clients, that experiences a 20% drop-out rate would result in 50 clients ending therapy prematurely. Assuming that a typical course of care lasts three months, and three more sessions on average would be required for these 50 clients to complete their natural course of care, losing 50 clients at a practice rate of $150 would result in an unrecognized revenue of $90,000 per year, or $7,500 per month. The lost revenue from no-shows and canceled appointments, as well as the administrative costs of dropout for those 50 clients, have a meaningful impact on the practice’s operations and bottom line. 

Measurement-Based Care is a Simple Solution to Reduce Client Dropout

Recent research has shown that progress feedback, a crucial component of measurement-based care (MBC), is a viable solution for addressing dropout. In 2021, researchers conducted the most comprehensive meta-analysis to date on the effectiveness of progress feedback. After reviewing 58 studies analyzing over 21,000 patients, they found that alongside the more established benefits of MBC (e.g., improved symptom reduction), feedback through measurement-based care results in a 20% reduction of client dropout rates!

Put in the context of the 10-clinician group mentioned above, a 20% reduction in client dropout would mean that rather than 50 clients dropping out of care prematurely, there would only be 40. Thus, an increase in 10 more active clients at any given time would result in a revenue increase of $18,000 per year, or $1,500 per month. This small yet meaningful incremental increase in revenue from reducing dropout, combined with a better quality of life for the therapists, is most certainly something to take note of. 

Importantly, this finding also aligns with a recent case study that found clients who receive measurement-based care through Blueprint are 25% less likely to cancel an appointment than clients who are not receiving automated progress feedback through Blueprint. Even one canceled appointment per day at a group practice with a practice rate of $150 and 261 working days per year adds up to roughly $39,000 in lost revenue annually! Given that Blueprint was intentionally designed to be easy to use for clients, actionable for clinicians, and embedded into existing clinical workflows, the decision of whether or not to implement an automated MBC tool that reduces dropout and canceled appointments to such an extent should be a no-brainer. 

In summary, adding progress feedback through measurement-based care is a simple intervention that can reduce dropout rates and improve client treatment outcomes while easing therapist burnout and increasing practice revenue. If you’d like to explore Blueprint for you and your practice, you can book a free trial here

Dr. Russell DuBois, PhD

I am a psychologist specializing in the areas of eating disorders, mindfulness, and data science for personalized medicine. I write for Psychology Today under the column The Digital Doctor.