The Finnish social security institution Kela and HUS Psychiatry of the Helsinki University Hospital, have launched a joint development project. During the project, data from rehabilitative psychotherapies compensated by Kela is entered in the HUS psychotherapy register. The register provides a summary of the questionnaires and symptom indicators. The results will help to assess the effectiveness of psychotherapy.

“We can improve the availability of therapy, if we systematically show its quality and effectiveness. We want to be able to offer the same high-quality service as health care providers offer,” say Kela planners Eija Lehtinen and Virpi Palomäki.

Kela has no previous experience in rehabilitative psychotherapy quality registries, but “the start is promising”.

HUS: Psychotherapy can only be developed based on reliable data

HUS started using the psychotherapy register in September 2018. The primary objective is to gather information about the treatment and its effectiveness.

“Until now, there has been very little useful information available. Psychotherapy as a form of treatment is very much talked about, and its development requires reliable data,” says Suoma Saarni, Chief Physician at HUS, explaining why they adopted the psychotherapy register. “The register already monitors several patients who attend therapy compensated by Kela. We hope to actively engage also the Kela therapists, since there are many patients who do not seek therapy via HUS.”

Both Kela and HUS consider it important that in the future, all psychotherapy should be under harmonised quality control standards. That is why the use of the psychotherapy register is expanding to several hospital districts in Finland.

Clients’ needs guide the register development

BCB Medical is in charge of the delivery and technical development of the psychotherapy register. The register has three special user groups: children, adolescents and adults. The data is added in the register together with the therapist. Adults can also use the Omavointi service and add information independently.

“When we at BCB Medical create a disease specific register, we, together with the clinical experts, define for example what kind of data is wanted, who enters the data, and is the patient included in the process. We often help to model the use of the register, because the user has to understand how it works,” says Niina Hamström, Customer Service Manager at BCB Medical.

Integration to existing systems is an integral part of the service.

“When a treatment evolves or users have new needs and expectations, the register is updated. We at BCB listen carefully to users’ wishes, and develop our systems accordingly,” says Eija Mellin, Customer Service Manager at BCB Medical.

Encouraging first-year experiences

After the first 12 months, the user experiences at HUS have been positive. The personnel has learnt to use the register and to enter data, although some of the therapists have found the register slightly more challenging than others.

“We are now entering an exciting stage: we are about to find out what kind of information the register can give us. We can already see the amount and type of diagnoses we have. So, we are optimistic, but still in an expectant mood,” Suoma Saarni describes.

Finland is not the only country in the world where the quality of treatments is routinely monitored and measured, but the Finnish psychotherapy register cooperation project has one useful special feature:

“What is unique about our register, is that there is a question about the quality of the treatment relationship, and it is asked both from the therapist and the patient. The patients can give feedback on the treatment relationship and not just on the symptoms. This is an important addition to the big picture,” Saarni says.