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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11.17.2008 Productivity measures Are productivity measures within scope? For example, number of visits per half day: does NCQA classify this as a utilization measure or as something else?

No. Productivity measures are out of scope for the 2008 PHQ standards. Quality, cost, resource use and utilization measures are in scope if the organization takes action based on them.

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 Exemption process for surveys Can you confirm the process for exemption for PHQ 1?

During the application process, the organization lists and briefly explains instances where it feels exemptions apply.

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.

11.17.2008 Methodology for evaluation of cost measures What constitutes an acceptable methodological approach to evaluation of cost?

NCQA does not prescribe the cost measures an organization selects, though it requires an organization to specify all aspects of its methodology (Element C). In addition, the organization must risk-adjust its measures (Element C, factor 8) and must meet the minimum statistical requirements for measurement error and measure reliability (Element H, factor 2).

11.17.2008 Pay for Performance The draft program did not pertain to pay-for-performance programs, whose goal is QI at the practice, not public disclosure. Why was this added to "taking action?"

In the draft standards released for Public Comment in March 2008, NCQA included pay-for-performance but did not use that specific term; instead, we referred to payment strategies. Specifically, NCQA defined the Scope of Review for the majority of elements in PHQ 1 as: NCQA evaluates all measures the organization uses for measuring physician performance for the purpose of taking action.

In the Explanation, NCQA defined taking action as follows.

Publicly reporting physician performance on quality or cost or resource use

Using physician performance on quality or cost or resource use measures as a basis for network design (such as tiering), benefit design or payment strategies

NCQA defined payment strategies in Element M, Using Measure Results as follows.

The organization uses reimbursement to provide incentives for improvement among its physicians, practice sites or medical groups, or uses payment to reward performance.

In the final standards, NCQA used the term pay-for-performance and specifically narrowed the scope of programs included.

11.17.2008 Use of rental networks and hospital quality For PHQ 2, Element E, if we "rent" our national hospital network and do not contract directly, may we share hospital results with the entity we rent from, rather than the individual hospitals?

Each hospital must receive results. Either the organization must provide results to each hospital or it may have a written agreement with the national network stating that it will provide results to hospitals. If the national network provides results to each hospital, it must provide documentation (e.g., reports, materials) to the organization that it has met the requirements.

11.17.2008 Requests for corrections or changes What does NCQA look for in file review with regard to requests for corrections or changes?

Element G, Request for Corrections or Changes has four factors. 1. Documentation of the substance of the request 2. Investigation of the request 3. Notification of the specific reasons for the final decision 4. Notification of the outcome prior to taking action on measure results NCQA reviews an organizations documentation to determine if it follows its process for handling physician requests for corrections or changes related to the four factors. In response to inquiries from many organizations, NCQA issued a clarification on the expectations of the process (which is scored in Element F) and the file review against that process. See the Corrections, Clarifications and Policy Changes Web page at www.ncqa.org/tabid/120/Default.aspx.

11.17.2008 Measure requirements Regarding standardized measures, will the requirement of 70% of measures being standardized increase over time or will it be held constant?

NCQA has not decided. All products are periodically evaluated and proposed changes are published for Public Comment before updates are released.

11.17.2008 PHQ and HP Accreditation When will the PHQ standards be folded in to the health plan accreditation standards?

NCQA has not made a decision about incorporating the PHQ standards into health plan accreditation. Should NCQA decide to do so, it will put such a proposal out for Public Comment.

9.15.2008 Applications for PHQ surveys How long after NCQA receives an application for survey does the survey begin?

NCQA suggests that organizations submit an application for survey at least 90 days in advance of the date requested for their Initial Survey, but applications may be submitted further in advance than 90 days. Organizations should indicate their preferred survey date and NCQA will accommodate them if possible.

9.15.2008 Providing Results and Estimates of Statistical Reliability Element F, factor 3 requires organizations to provide results and estimates of statistical reliability for comparative information to each physician. What evidence must organizations provide to meet factor 3?

To meet the intent of factor 3, the organization must provide physicians with the results of each applicable measure and an estimate of statistical reliability. The organization determines how it expresses the estimate of statistical reliability (e.g., range, standard deviation, confidence interval, coefficient of variation). The organization should also provide descriptive information with the numbers; the estimate of reliability is a numeric value.