NCQA’s eCQM Testing FAQs

What’s the difference between NCQA eCQM testing and Cypress?

  • Cypress is an open-source tool; it is the official testing tool for the 2015 EHR Certification program supported by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT.
  • NCQA’s eCQM testing is not a tool; it is an industry-developed testing method that uses test decks, which contain synthetic patient-level test data in Continuity of Care Documents (CCD). There is one test deck per measure and one CCD file per patient in each test deck. Each test deck contains 800–1,500 synthetic patients.
  • CCDs allow testing of a variety of boundary cases, common errors and health care services that are both applicable and non-applicable to the measure. Developers can refine their software code and ensure that only applicable services meeting measure criteria are identified and reported.

What are the benefits of testing through NCQA?

  • NCQA is now an approved ONC Authorized Test Lab (ATL). With ONC-ATL status, NCQA’s testing method can now be used by HIT developers for applicable ONC Health IT Certification Program eCQM certification criteria, and for NCQA Recognition and reporting programs, (e.g., Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) and HEDIS).
  • The same eCQMs that are used for CMS Quality Payment Program (QPP) reporting can also be submitted for NCQA PCMH Recognition. The Quality Measures Crosswalk identifies eCQMs that are tested with NCQA’s test decks and accepted in the NCQA PCMH Recognition program, as well as those selected as core America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP)/CMS eCQMs and used in HEDIS reporting.
  • Measures can be submitted through EHRs, HIEs, qualified clinical data registries (QCDR) and data analytics companies, as long as they can use the electronic specifications defined by CMS for ambulatory quality reporting programs.
  • By 2019, only measurement data from sources certified by NCQA through eCQM testing will be accepted for PCMH recognition.
  • NCQA’s HEDIS and CMS Medicare Stars reporting programs can use certified eCQM data for performance measurement.
  • Certified data in the approved QRDA format can be used as supplemental data and added to records used to calculate HEDIS measures at the health plan level. As a result, health plans can reduce the number of costly chart reviews.

How do I apply for testing?