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Standardizing Outcomes with APA’s PsychPRO Data Registry

  • June 15, 2023
  • Diversity News and Updates

By Fátima Reynolds, M.P.H.

For psychiatrists, quality improvement in a field without objective concrete data can be a challenge. “In cardiology, you can check vital signs or blood pressure. In mental health, we do not have laboratory or easily quantifiable data, so we must standardize outcomes so that everyone speaks the same language and can measure performance using the same gauge,” said Nitin Gogtay, M.D., APA Deputy Medical Director and Chief of the Division of Research.

PsychPRO, APA’s national mental health registry was launched seven years ago to bridge the gap between quantifying standardized outcomes and measuring improvement in quality of care. PsychPRO collects patient-level data in a secure and longitudinal manner, which it deidentifies and stores in a common data model. There, it is mapped using common data elements. The data can be used for implementing measurement-based care and tracking and comparing clinician and provider performance to other local and national systems.

More than 1,000 psychiatrists and mental health professionals have joined PsychPRO, working individually, as a group, or in larger systems. As membership grows, the potential increases to measure quality and receive broad input to shape behavioral health care and psychiatry. This “collective wisdom” offers the “value and benefit to keep the profession relevant,” said Debbie Gibson, Managing Director for PsychPRO. “Data is probably the only way to understand how to make significant impacts on improving patient outcomes, both on the individual level and at the population level.”

Participation in the registry also automatically meets Maintenances of Certification Part IV requirements, as well as CMS’s Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). Gogtay projects the future of PsychPRO as a one-stop shop for meeting education and certification needs, while also making data available for research in the mental health field, including in the development of the DSM. They hope to provide educational resources, including tailored courses.

Ultimately, the more data there is, the stronger the measures will be. “There is strength in numbers,” said Gogtay. As such, the PsychPRO team continues to work to shift mindsets toward the importance of standardized data and information. It doesn’t replace their clinical decision-making and expertise, said Gibson, but clinicians can use it to help with their care planning, their decisions, and treating their patients.

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