Another good reason for standardization in screening and initial assessment is the scarcity of human resources in behavioral health care.



Discussion of standardization raises the issue of clinical discretion. Behavioral health professionals take pride in the art and science of their profession, and desire to preserve their clinical judgment and discretion. Supported by their professional training and credentials in the process, they can offer custom-tailored approaches to services.

Yet standardization need not hamper the individuality or creativity of providers. In fact, it can help establish an expected high level of performance for which the provider can be held accountable. It allows providers to exercise individual judgment while working collaboratively with consumers during the treatment and rehabilitation process. Furthermore, standardization enhances consumer movement from one provider to another to promote continuity of care.

As the behavioral health care industry seeks parity and recognition as an integral part of the overall health care delivery system, its professional community needs to embrace a certain amount of professionally approved uniformity and standardization. Those who demand credentials as a precondition for service reimbursement should be able to accept standardization of practice with professional accountability intact as a viable direction.

Certainly credentials matter in parts of initial assessment and ongoing assessment, but they matter less in screening. Standardization, coupled with competency-based training, can provide added assurance of quality screening and assessment.

Another good reason for standardization in screening and initial assessment is the scarcity of human resources in behavioral health care. Recruitment and retention of adequate qualified personnel is a common problem in many parts of the nation, especially in rural regions. This is exacerbated by concern about the burden of paperwork and the consequent reduction in face-to-face time spent with consumers. What better way to deal with this issue than to standardize screening and assessment in computerized formats and free trained professionals to perform the services of their calling? 


 

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