This paper describes the Australian experience to date with a national 'roll out' of routine outcome measurement in public sector mental health services.
Consultations were held with 123 stakeholders representing a range of roles.
Australia has made an impressive start to nationally implementing routine outcome measurement in mental health services, although it still has a long way to go. All States/Territories have established data collection systems, although some are more streamlined than others. Significant numbers of clinicians and managers have been trained in the use of routine outcome measures, and thought is now being given to ongoing training strategies. Outcome measurement is now occurring 'on the ground'; all States/Territories will be reporting data for 2003–04, and a number have been doing so for several years. Having said this, there is considerable variability regarding data coverage, completeness and compliance. Some States/Territories have gone to considerable lengths to 'embed' outcome measurement in day-to-day practice. To date, reporting of outcome data has largely been limited to reports profiling individual consumers and/or aggregate reports that focus on compliance and data quality issues, although a few States/Territories have begun to turn their attention to producing aggregate reports of consumers by clinician, team or service.
Routine outcome measurement is possible if it is supported by a co-ordinated, strategic approach and strong leadership, and there is commitment from clinicians and managers. The Australian experience can provide lessons for other countries.