The Q Series: What Role Do Specialty Practices Play in Patient-Centered Care?

March 30, 2016 · Drew Fontaine

A tip of your sunglasses reveals golden sands, crystal-clear waters and azure skies. Coconut-scented breezes whisper in your ear as palm fronds gently rustle overhead. A trip to the islands probably sounds like a wonderful idea, especially during this chillier time of year.

Patient-Centered Care

But when it comes to health care, the islands are not where patients and their data should be: stranded in a vast ocean among remote locales of general practitioners and specialists.

Coordinated care serves to link those locales, constructing an information-sharing network of bridges and pathways. It places a patient’s general practitioner, cardiologist and vascular surgeon all in the same patient-centered care neighborhood—even if they’re located across the country from one another.

NCQA built its Patient-Centered Specialty Practice (PCSP) program to recognize specialists focused on coordinated care. It stresses proactive information sharing between primary care clinicians and specialists, with consistent emphasis on care of the patient, rather than an isolated episode of care.

PCSP recognition extends the successful model of NCQA’s Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Recognition program to specialty practices. PCSPs are the “good neighbors” and important partners with medical home and primary care colleagues, ensuring comprehensive and coordinated care of patients.

At an NCQA recognized specialty practice, patient referrals are tracked and coordinated, and the patient is kept informed throughout. Care is planned and managed with patient preferences in mind and measured for performance improvement. Incorporating specialty practices into patient-centered care offers patients an “all-inclusive package” of care—almost like what you’d get at a fancy beach resort.

In March, NCQA will introduce the newest generation of our specialty practice product. PCSP 2016 incorporates recommendations and feedback gathered from public comment and key stakeholders, clarifying and refining expectations for specialty practices seeking recognition.

The 2016 PCSP Standards and Guidelines and 2016 PCSP Survey Tool are now available for order in the NCQA Store. Further explore PCSP recognition and browse training opportunities at

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