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CARF’s performance management guide helps providers demonstrate service effectiveness

May 2, 2017, Tucson, Arizona—Behavioral health providers looking for assistance when designing a performance management system now have a practical new resource at their disposal. CARF’s new publication, Performance Management Systems: A CARF Guide to Development and Use, helps organizations overcome limited expertise or resources to develop an outcomes measurement strategy that can be used to continuously improve service delivery.

This guide is being offered to address several growing demands faced by behavioral health, substance abuse, and child and youth services providers:

  • Changes in regulatory and payer requirements centered on accountability and outcomes.
  • Public and media questions stemming from mental health and substance abuse stigma.
  • Competitive pressure from larger organizations with access to larger pools of data.
  • Industry interest in more standardized performance indicators and benchmarks.
  • Consumer and family expectations for providers to demonstrate service effectiveness.

The effect of these demands means that collecting and sharing concrete evidence of organizational outcomes is becoming more critical to future success. But many organizations—particularly small- to mid-sized organizations with tight budgets—may run into difficulties getting their efforts off the ground. Common barriers to developing a useful performance management system include:

  • Lack of financial resources.
  • Lack of personnel resources.
  • Concern about confidentiality or perceived lack of confidentiality.
  • Fear that collected data will be unflattering.
  • Too much data (information overload).
  • Not knowing where to start.

Performance Management Systems: A CARF Guide to Development and Use addresses these barriers step-by-step to help organizations build a performance management system from the ground up. This begins with a broad, six-step template and progressively narrows into the specific components of data collection, measurement, analysis, and reporting. The guide contains grids, sample plans, and real-world examples of various indicators and measurement categories. The objective is to teach staff members how to link an organization’s efforts to its unique mission, goals, and funding requirements. Later chapters cover how to feed the collected data back into performance improvement efforts and address ethical and legal considerations. The guide references many online resources and other publications for easy access.

The guide complements the CARF standards for performance measurement and management and performance improvement (Sections 1.M. and 1.N.) and includes an explanation of these standards and their intent. Because it often cites best-practice language from the standards, CARF recommends it be used in conjunction with the standards manual. The 2017 CARF standards manuals are available at

5/2/2017 10:55:00 AM

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