Joint Commission Requiring Measurement-Based Care

In January, the Joint Commission announced that it is revising its Care, Treatment, and Services (CTS) Standard CTS.03.01.09 to require that addiction treatment and behavioral health providers use Measurement-based Care. This announcement could mean changes for programs wishing to acquire or maintain Joint Commission accreditation.

This new requirement is informed by research conducted by the Kennedy Forum which supports the effectiveness of Measurement-based Care in improving patient outcomes.

All primary care and behavioral health providers treating mental health and substance use disorders should implement a system of measurement-based care whereby validated symptom rating scales are completed by patients and reviewed by clinicians during encounters. Measurement-based care will help providers determine whether the treatment is working and facilitate treatment adjustments, consultations, or referrals for higher intensity services when patients are not improving as expected.”1

Essentially, Measurement-based Care means the ongoing and systematic use of symptom rating scales during treatment. Symptom rating scales like the PHQ-9 and GAD-7 are widely used in the field, but typically as a single-use screening tool. Measurement-based Care is the ongoing use of these screening tools throughout treatment.

Implementing measurement-based care doesn’t have to be difficult.

Vista Research Group is a Psynchronous client and one of a small number of specialized research companies helping addiction treatment programs implement measurement-based care and evidence-based practice. Vista offers HIPAA-compliant, real-time software that collects symptom scale data from patients throughout treatment and makes it available to their clinicians.

“Our progress monitoring product is specifically designed to make measurement-based care easy for addiction treatment programs to implement.” says Joanna Conti, Vista Research Group Founder. “he data helps clinicians identify any patients who are not progressing as well as expected, so they can target personalized interventions to prevent AMAs and achieve better outcomes.”

The Surgeon General’s report “Facing Addiction in America2 issued last November strongly suggested that the addiction treatment field fold into the medical mainstream through integration of practices as well as physical integrations with medical care facilities. This move by the Joint Commission could be seen as one step in a march toward more regulated and unified measurement practices to bring the addiction treatment and behavioral health fields into closer alignment with other medical fields in which evidence-based care models have been routine for decades.

The Joint Commission is hosting a free webinar on Tuesday, April 11 from 1:00 - 2:00pm EST. Register here:


1. The Kennedy Forum. Fixing Behavioral Health Care in America: A National Call for Measurement-Based Care in the Delivery of Behavioral Health Services. Accessed Dec 11, 2016.

2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Surgeon General, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. Washington, DC: HHS, November 2016.