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.

11.17.2008 Survey Pricing If we go through provisional certification and are then required to go through full certification within 12 months, does our organization get a reduced price?

No. Survey prices apply to each discrete survey; NCQA does not apply credit forward to a future survey. Survey pricing reflects the amount and level of resources NCQA dedicates to evaluating an organization and at the time of the Full Certification Survey, NCQA must re-evaluate the organization on all requirements.

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 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 Measure specifications Expand on the minimum denominator criteria for quality measures. Do you mean minimum observations per measure? Or minimum observations per provider? Or is that already in the requirements?

In measuring physician performance and distinguishing among peers, the organization is required to specify minimum observations or denominators for each measure on which the action is based. Denominators are patient observations, which may include multiple observations for an individual.

Criteria must be defined at the level on which action will be taken.

Note: This applies if the organization uses minimum observations rather than confidence intervals or measure reliability.

11.17.2008 PHQ and Physician Practice Connection Recognition Do you have a crosswalk for PHQ as it relates to Physician Practice Connection (PPC) Recognitionstandard 8 in particular?

No. The PHQ standards evaluate organizations that measure physician performance; PPC recognizes physician practices that use systematic processes and information technology to enhance quality of patient care. The two programs serve different purposes. In particular, PPC 8: Performance Reporting and Improvement focuses on the practices internal measurement and quality improvement process. It does not address the methodology required in PHQ, but focuses on the QI process.

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 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 Handling complaints For the file review component in PHQ 1 (re: member complaints), is there review of a minimum number of files? In other words, we do not anticipate a large number of this type of complaint.

There is no minimum requirement. If the total number of files is fewer than the requested 40 files, NCQA reviews the entire file universe. For file review elements, NCQA follows its 8/30 methodology. Refer to An Explanation of the 8 and 30 File Sampling Procedure on the NCQA Web site at www.ncqa.org/tabid/125/Default.aspx.

11.17.2008 Survey pricing How much does the PHQ Survey cost?

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 Risk adjustment How is risk adjustment defined for quality measures?

Case-mix adjustment considers variations in the health of physicians populations, often defined by age and gender. Severity is a patients degree of illness for a specific mix of conditions (e.g., cancer stages), morbidity or comorbidity. Together, case mix and severity are often called risk. Risk can be either the risk for needing a mix of medical services (utilization and associated costs) or the patients likelihood of achieving a specific level of quality-related outcome.

Risk adjustment may not apply to quality measures, particularly process measures. For quality measures, NCQA requires the organization to demonstrate that it has considered whether to risk-adjust measuresand that it has an explicit methodology if it does and an explicit rationale if it does not. If the organization determines that case-mix and severity adjustment do not apply to a quality measure, it provides documentation that supports the determination. If the organization adjusts measures for case-mix or severity, it provides documentation describing the methodology used.