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 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.

11.17.2008 Adding new products/product lines to existing PHQ Distinction If a plan was initially PHQ Certified in HMO only and now wants to add PPO, is the certification process separate?

NCQA no longer conducts surveys under the 2006 PHQ standards. If an organization had distinction for its HMO under the 2006 standards and seeks certification for its PPO, the PPO must be reviewed against the 2008 standards. Under the 2008 PHQ standards, if a plan manages both products (e.g., HMO and PPO) the same, NCQA can survey both products together. The organization should contact NCQA to discuss its options, including a possible option to upgrade (i.e., apply some results from its 2006 survey to a 2008 survey). Note: An Upgrade does not extend the expiration date of the Distinction; that date transfers to the new certification status.

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 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 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 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 Survey pricing How much does the PHQ Survey cost?

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 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 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 Credit for Physician Recognition Programs Define how NCQA Physician Recognition programs can be used for autocredit.

NCQAs Recognition Program measures meet many of the elements in PHQ.

If an organization takes action based on measures in NCQAs Recognition Programs, the measures meet the elements where specified in the standards. The organization does not need to provide additional documentation about how the measures meet these elements.

NCQAs Recognition Programs are the Diabetes Physician Recognition Program (DPRP); Heart-Stroke Recognition Program (HSRP); Back Pain Recognition Program (BPRP); Physician Practice Connections (PPC); and the Physician Practice ConnectionsPatient-Centered Medical Home (PPC-PCMH).

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.