Many recent public and private strategies aimed at improving the quality and efficiency of the U.S. health care system focus on measuring, reporting on, and providing incentives for improving quality. In behavioral health care, despite recent efforts, quality measurement for even the more common conditions is less well developed than for comparable general medical conditions. The absence of a comprehensive set of well-accepted measures capable of demonstrating the value of behavioral health treatment makes building a case for devoting resources to treatment more difficult. This Open Forum reviews the current state of behavioral health quality measurement, describes the criteria relevant to assessing measures, and provides a case for encouraging the development, collection, and routine use of functional outcome measures in behavioral health care.
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