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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 Acceptance of HIP 6 for Autocredit of PHQ 2 Will NCQA accept HIP 6 for autocredit for PHQ 2008?

Yes. The substance of the standards did not change and the purpose of HIP is to give autocredit.

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 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.

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.