How to measure treatment results for eating disorders?

Sander de Vos, wetenschappelijk onderzoeker eetstoornissen

The importance of data and comparison in learning more about the treatment of eating disorders

How to map the effects of eating disorder treatments? Routine Outcome Monitoring (ROM) is used to measure mental heathcare treatment results. Patients fill out validated questionnaires on the evaluation of, for example, their symptoms. By combining the results from these questionnaires with their trajectory information and patient characteristics, a relevant treatment effect can be determined which then serves as the basis for Value-based Healthcare (VBHC). ROM researcher and project leader Sander de Vos shares how he used InfinitCare to map results at Stichting Human Concern, a specialised mental healthcare provider in the treatment of eating disorders.

“The treatment of eating disorders is very complex. Research into the efficacy of these treatments shows only limited differences between treatment options. Three out of four patients who come to us have received treatment before, often more than once. By now, they have already been suffering from their eating disorder for an average of ten years. Some of these patients have previously been admitted to hospital, sometimes but not always voluntarily, because of somatic complications. Some will eventually die from the consequences of their eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality risk of all mental disorders. It is clear that in our sector, there is still much to learn about how we can better help these patients.

eetstoornissen Human Concern

In addition to the tragedy of patients suffering from their eating disorders for a very long time, the repeated yet unsuccessful treatment and long duration of eating disorders are very expensive to our society as a whole. Discussions about shorter treatment lengths are currently taking place with health insurance companies. However, we cannot even identify the amount of time required to treat these patients successfully. And we have yet to learn which factors influence the duration of these treatments.

We should find a different approach. In addition to scientific research, we need to make much better use of the data. We should use the available information on the recovery of patients (ROM), their levels of satisfaction regarding their treatment, their background characteristics and the duration of their treatment. We should also learn more about the correlation between the efficacy of a specific treatment, the duration of that treatment and the cost. This will help us create a better overview of the differences between departments, healthcare trajectories and facilities, which will allow us to learn from each other. In 2016, Human Concern chose to work with InfinitCare to develop a dashboard using these indicators. InfinitCare has already demonstrated that it is highly capable of converting the right data into easy-to-read tables and graphs. The dashboard they’ve developed provides us with clear insight into the recovery of our patients and the differences within our organisation. For example, it appears that the same type of treatment at one of our locations takes longer than at our other locations, and we also see differences with regards to other indicators. We will be using these insights in the near future. In addition, we want to work with health insurers in determining whether we can use this system to achieve funding based on the Value-based Health Care principle.”

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