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Physician and Hospital Quality Certification


NCQA’s Physician and Hospital Quality (PHQ) certification program evaluates how well organizations measure and report the quality and cost of physicians and hospitals. The PHQ seal represents an impartial third-party certification of provider measurement programs, and provides assurance that such efforts use valid, transparent methodologies, and measure on quality—not cost alone.

More than 60 health plans have achieved Distinction in Physician and Hospital Quality through the 2006 version of the program. In 2008, NCQA released a PHQ Certification program reflecting changes in the provider measurement field and demand from purchasers and regulators.

This program is open to any organization conducting functions evaluated by the standards, whether a health plan, a measurement collaborative, a provider network or an information provider such as a Web site.

Four key principles serve as the foundation of PHQ Certification:

  • Standardization and sound methodology. This allows results to be compared across organizations.
  • Transparency. Organizations should offer physicians the opportunity to provide input on measurement programs. Organizations should also provide clear, understandable information about how the results will be used.
  • Collaboration. Where possible, organizations should pool their data on standardized
    measures to produce results with greater statistical reliability.
  • Action on quality and cost. Organizations should not sacrifice quality for cost reduction. Organizations must not use results of cost measurement alone.

PHQ Certification Options

Organizations may seek any of the following certifications. Certification is effective for two years.

  • Certification for Physician Quality (PQ Certification).
  • Certification for Hospital Quality (HQ Certification).
  • Interim Certification for Physician Quality (Interim PQ Certification): Organizations with a current physician program – prior to its public release – may come forward for survey under a subset of the PQ Standards. Interim certification indicates that the organization meets key standards for methodology and transparency before public release. Interim Certification expires 180 days after receiving Certification. Organizations seeking PQ or PHQ Certification must undergo a Follow-up survey against the remaining PHQ 1 elements within 120 days of the public release of their physician quality program to achieve full certification.

New Online Application Process

A new application and scheduling process begins May 15 for Accreditation programs.


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