FAQ Directory

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about NCQA’s various programs. If you don’t see what you are looking for in one of the entries below, you can  ask a question through My NCQA.

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12.12.2008 Measure specifications Since NQF does not publish the actual code sets for all its measures, how does NCQA determine whether an organization is following the measure specifications as written?

NCQA recognizes that some NQF-endorsed or AQA-approved specifications may require additional specifications to implement in specific contexts. Organizations may supplement endorsed specifications as long as they follow all endorsed specifications, and if supplementation does not alter the intended numerator, denominator and exclusion criteria for the measure.

12.12.2008 Taking action on collaborative and organization results How does the survey process work if an organization takes action on measure results from a collaborative and from its own measurement?

All measures on which the organization bases action are included in the scope of a PHQ Survey, including those developed and whose results are calculated as part of a collaborative and those calculated directly by the organization.

NCQA evaluates the organizations activities in one of two ways.

1.Evaluate the collaborative onceif the collaborative opts to undergo a PHQ surveyand apply the survey results to all participants

2.Evaluate the measures, methods and processes of the collaborative when each participant organization is surveyed

The organizations scores on any element are based on the performance of both the collaborative and the organization. The organization must meet the element for all measures, including the collaborative measures it uses. For example, for Element C: Methodology, NCQA evaluates the organizations methodology for each measure directly. It may evaluate the collaboratives methodology either once during a survey of the collaborative or for each organization during the organizations survey. Regardless of the process, all measures must meet the requirements of Element C in order to meet the element.

When a collaborative undergoes a survey directly, the process is streamlined for all involved (the collaborative, the organization and NCQA). In addition, the process may be more cost-effective, since NCQAs pricing is designed to reflect economies of scale.

12.12.2008 Requests for corrections or changes For Elements F and G, how can patient experience of care data corrected, when this information is not disclosed to physicians?

The plan is not required to disclose member-specific results, nor is it expected that a physician can correct member responses. At a minimum, the physician must be given the methodology (e.g., sampling, attribution) and survey questions and, upon request, be allowed to confirm that the patients in the universe from which the sample was drawn are his or her patients, given the methodology.

12.12.2008 Notice for providing results Does a 45-day notice period apply when measurement is more frequent than annual (e.g., quarterly)?

The 45-calendar-day notice period for providing results and an opportunity for a physician to request a correction or change applies to each cycle of measurement and action an organization takes, regardless of frequency (e.g., biannual, annual, semiannual, quarterly); however, if an organization recalculates results without changing its methodology or measures, it does not need to provide the methodology again as long as it supplies information on how to obtain that methodology.

The exception to the minimum 45-calendar-day notice period for action is if the action involves only pay-for-performance activities that are not publicly reported (e.g., an action that is only between the organization and the physician). In this instance, the organization may provide the results and methodology concurrent with additional or bonus payment. The organization must still provide a process for the physician to request corrections or changes.

12.12.2008 Survey measures How is Element A scored for non-NQF endorsed surveys? Is each question a measure or, if measures roll up to a composite, is the composite considered one measure?

Non-NQF endorsed patient experience surveys are counted as one measure for the entire survey. CAHPS-CG questions or composites count as separate measures.

12.12.2008 Patient experience measures Are all questions related to patient perception considered quality measures?

Yes. NCQA considers all patient experience results to be measures of quality.

12.12.2008 Principles for use of results Does Element H, factors 1 and 2, apply to all patient experience surveys?

Yes. Factor 1 applies because patient experience results are considered measures of quality.

11.17.2008 Quality measures What criteria does NCQA use to determine what constitutes a quality measure vs. another kind of measure?

A quality measure is one of clinical performance or patient experience, where one can generally identify the direction of good, with a clear definition of what is better performance or worse performance.

11.17.2008 Approved measures What percentage of an organization's measures must be approved by NQF, AQA or AMA/PCPI?

To achieve certification, the organization must score at least 50% on Element A, Measuring Physician Performance. The 50% score threshold requires that at least 50% but fewer than 60% of the measures used by the organization to measure physician quality for taking action meet the element (i.e., are standardized). To achieve full points (100%), at least 70% of the measures used by the organization to measure physician quality for taking action must meet the element (i.e., must be standardized)

11.17.2008 HEDIS measures If we use HEDIS measures, will NCQA still look at code?

No. NCQA does not evaluate an organizations code; it reviews the organizations measure specifications and compares them to the original source specification (if applicable).

11.17.2008 Collaborative data Must organizations include collaborative data for certification?

All measures on which an organization bases action are included in the scope of the PHQ Survey, including those that are developed and whose results are calculated as part of a collaborative. The exception is during the first year the standards are in effect (October 1, 2008_September 30, 2009). For surveys that start during that period, the organization may opt to carve out measures from a collaborative. The rationale for this exemption is two-fold. First, organizations will not need to wait until a collaborative undergoes a survey in order to have their own survey. Second, if the collaborative needs to make changes to any measures, methods or processes to meet the standard, it is not within the organizations control to make the changesalthough as a participant, it influences them. This allows time for the collaborative to make changes.

11.17.2008 Working with hospitals on reporting For PHQ 2, Element E, are plans required to share results, explain how they are used and get feedback from hospitals ONLY if they report the results in a format different from the primary data source. Is this NA if we only provide links to the data?

Factors 1 and 2 are NA if the organization does not change the format of its results from the primary data source. Factors 3 and 4 always apply and are scored irrespective of factors 1 and 2.