BACKGROUND: The cost of mental health care has possibly risen more than costs in other sectors ofhealth care in the Netherlands. In an attempt to control the rising costs, new policies have been implemented that include the introduction of selective financial penalties/or those in need of mental health care as well as the start of performance-based mental health care reimbursement. In order to achieve the latter goal, a nation-wide large-scale data collection was introduced based on clinical routine outcome monitoring (ROM) data, with a view to using these data for benchmarking. AIM: Closer inspection of the benchmarking efforts in terms of scientific validity. METHOD: Qualitative review and analysis. RESULTS: Analysis shows that the type of ROM data that is collected in the Netherlands is valid for tracking the outcomes of individual patients, but unsuitable for performance comparisons between institutions for reasons of case-mix, instrument-mix, bias and lack of sensitivity. CONCLUSION: Attempts to introduce benchmarking based on ROM will probably have a negative impact on the practice of mental health care in the Netherlands. More input from mental health professionals and scientists is required in order to identify more rational and efficient ways of spending scarce resources.

Benchmarking, Biomedical ethics, Routine outcome monitoring/measurement (ROM)
Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

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