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.

Filter Results
  • Save

    Save your favorite pages and receive notifications whenever they’re updated.

    You will be prompted to log in to your NCQA account.

  • Email

    Share this page with a friend or colleague by Email.

    We do not share your information with third parties.

  • Print

    Print this page.

11.17.2008 Measure reliability If a plan demonstrates a different methodology for statistical validity, would the methodology be considered?

Element C, Measurement Methodology requires the organization to have a method for determining measurement error and measure reliability. Element H, Principles for Use of Results sets requirements for minimum observations or levels of measure reliability or confidence intervalsas applicable for quality and cost, resource use or utilization measures.

For calculating measure reliability for PHQ, the organization must use the method described in the Explanation in Element C under the subhead Measurement error and measure reliability. Measure reliability is defined as the ratio of the variance between physicians to the variance within one physician, plus the variance between physicians.

NCQA does not prescribe the method used to calculate confidence intervals because the appropriate method may vary based on the parameter (e.g., mean or proportion).

11.17.2008 Pay for Performance Is consumer transparency required for certification? Our program is pay for performance targeted at physicians and hospitals only.

If the organization seeks certification, NCQA evaluates all measures on which it bases action against all elements. If the organization has a physician pay-for-performance program that meets the definition of taking action, then it must meet the elementsincluding all transparency requirements, including, but not limited to, requirements for making available to customers methodology and information about how the measures are used, providing opportunities for input, seeking feedback and having a process for complaints.

If the organizations pay-for-performance program was not designed to include public reporting of physicians measure results, then the organization is not required to make the individual measure results available to customers.

11.17.2008 Changing measure specifications With regard to patient experience measures, may we use items from CAHPS-CG but change the referent time period? For example, not rating the last 12 months, but rating the last visit and changing the response categories accordingly?

No. Changing the referent time period materially alters the measure and would therefore not qualify as a standard measure for Element A.

Patient experience measures endorsed, developed or accepted by the NQF, AQA, AMA PCPI, national accreditors or government agencies may be used, but the organization must follow the measure or instrument specifications as written.

11.17.2008 Delegating PHQ 2 to an NCQA-Certified HIP PHQ has no delegation oversight standard, but information distributed by NCQA in response to HIP Certification indicates that a delegation agreement with an NCQA-Certified HIP is required to receive automatic credit in PHQ 2. Must a health plan show an agreement that meets the six factors typically required by other NCQA delegation standards?

No. Delegation oversight was not included and is not required.

11.17.2008 Taking action on cost measures Is an organization prohibited from using cost efficiency if quality results are not available?

Yes. The organization may not take action based on cost, resource use or utilization results alone. This is a must pass requirement for certification and is consistent with the Consumer-Purchaser Disclosure Project Patient Charter.

The organization is required to consider quality in conjunction with cost, resource use or utilization when it takes action. To the extent that the organization develops and presents a composite score or rating using cost, resource use or utilization and quality measures, it must disclose the specific measures for each category and their relative weight when it determines the composite or rating.

11.17.2008 Small physician sample size If only a small percentage of available physicians in any specialty within a market have sufficient NQF measures available, may there be an assumption of appropriate quality, thus allowing members access to higher benefits with a larger number of physicians?

Yes. Assumption of appropriate quality in this context is permitted.

11.17.2008 Surveyors for PHQ certification What organizations will conduct surveys now or in the future? Only NCQA or, for example, would Licensed HEDIS Audit Organizations conduct them?

NCQA performs surveys on the PHQ standards, but may develop standards for auditing physician measurement and a program for certifying auditors. With such standards, NCQA will consider making external audit a requirement.

11.17.2008 Coding accuracy Is evaluation of coding accuracy and quality considered to be in scope for these measures?

NCQA does not evaluate coding accuracy and quality. Element D, Verifying Accuracy requires an organization to have a process to evaluate the accuracy of its measure results. The organization may use external auditors to verify its methodology, but is not required to do so. In the future, NCQA may develop standards for auditing physician measurement and a program for certifying auditors. With such standards, NCQA will consider making external audit a requirement.

11.17.2008 Measure specifications Since NQF does not publish the actual code sets for all its measures, how does NCQA determine that 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 such supplementation does not alter the intended numerator, denominator and exclusion criteria for the measure.

11.17.2008 Board certification and physician quality Will NCQA accept board certification, maintenance of certification and NCQA Recognition as markers of physician quality, or must there also be measurement of NQF markers?

The organization may take action based on physician completion of an ABMS or AOA board performance-based improvement module (generally, in conjunction with maintenance of certification) at least every two years. These activities may be used as a quality measurement activity to meet PHQ 1. Under certain circumstances, the organization may use measures from other national or regional performance-based designation programs to satisfy some or all requirements for PHQ 1, Element A. The organization must discuss this in advance with NCQA to determine if the designation program meets the criteria.

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.

11.17.2008 Physician requests For PHQ 1 Element G, could a collaborative manage the process?

Yes. PHQ requirements do not prohibit a collaborative from managing a request for corrections or changes made by physicians, but the organization remains accountable and responsible for responding to complaints from consumers and to requests for changes from physicians or hospitals based on actions taken by the organization.