Using organizational and clinical performance data to increase the value of mental health care

Eric M. Schmidt, Dean D. Krahn, Marsden H. McGuire, Sara Tavakoli, David M. Wright, Hugo E. Solares, Sonne Lemke, Jodie Trafton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


U.S. health systems, policy makers, and patients increasingly demand high-value care that improves health outcomes at lower cost. This study describes the initial design and analysis of the Mental Health Management System (MHMS), a performance data and quality improvement tool used by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to increase the value of its mental health care. The MHMS evaluates access to and quality of mental health care, organizational structure and efficiency, implementation of innovative treatment options, and, in collaboration with management, resource needs for delivering care. Performance on 31 measures was calculated for all U.S. VHA facilities (N = 139). Pearson correlations revealed that better access to care was significantly associated with fewer mental health provider staffing vacancies (r = -.24) and higher staff-topatient ratios for psychiatrists (r = .19) and other outpatient mental health providers (r = .27). Higher staff-to-patient ratios were significantly associated with higher performance on a number of patient and provider satisfaction measures (range of r = .18 -.51) and continuity of care measures (range of r = .26 -.43). Relationships observed between organizational and clinical performance measures suggest that the MHMS is a robust informatics and quality improvement tool that can serve as a model for health systems planning to adopt a value perspective. Future research should expand the MHMS framework to measure patient and health systems costs and psychosocial outcomes, as well as evaluate whether quality improvement solutions implemented as a result of using organizational information leads to higher-value mental health care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-22
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Services
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Mental health services
  • Organization and administration
  • Program evaluation
  • Quality improvement
  • Quality indicators
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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