Process: ACO Accreditation

The typical evaluation time frame for earning NCQA Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Accreditation is 9–12 months from application submission to decision. This depends on the organization’s readiness, since some organizations may already be working within NCQA guidelines.


  1. Overview Discussion

    Begin with a discussion with an NCQA business development representative at least 9 months before your desired evaluation survey start date.

    Our program expert will:

    • Discuss eligibility criteria.
    • Review evaluation areas
    • Identify program benefits.
    • Review the application process.

    Organizations without a current ACO accreditation should contact NCQA today. Organizations with a current ACO accreditation that wants to renew should submit a request through My NCQA.

  2. Purchase the Standards and Survey Tool

    Purchase 9–11 months from the desired survey start date. to begin learning the requirements.

    The standards and guidelines contain complete descriptions of the requirements. Use the survey tool to upload evidence and submit survey information to NCQA.

  3. Complete and Submit the Online Application

    Submit the online application and select the desired survey start date.

    Submit the application approximately 9 months before the desired survey start date.

    An NCQA representative will be available to answer questions about the application process. NCQA will determine eligibility within 30 days of receiving the completed application and will contact your organization to finalize the survey start date.
    The online application is free and available through the NCQA store.

  4. Perform Gap Analysis

    Approximately 9–11 months from your desired survey start date, perform a gap analysis by comparing the standards to your organization’s current processes and policies.

    The readiness assessment in the survey tool can help you:

    • Identify where you need to make changes.
    • Develop a project plan.
    • Begin implementing improvements.

    Many requirements require a 6-month look-back period: You must have met the standards for at least 6 months before submitting your survey. Keep this in mind when you schedule a survey date.



  1. Align with Requirements

    Approximately 9 months before the survey start date, work to align the operations identified in the gap analysis with program standards.

    You should be fully aligned with the requirements at least 6 months before the survey start date

  2. Submit the Survey Tool

    Approximately 1–3 months before the survey start date, NCQA will contact you to help you understand the survey submission process and answer questions.

    Complete and submit the survey tool on the assigned survey start date, officially starting the survey process.

  3. Earn ACO Accreditation

    NCQA determines ACO accreditation within 90 days from survey submission.

    • After the survey, NCQA sends your organization a preliminary report. 
    • You have 10 days to review the report and provide comments and supporting documentation. 

    The entire document, including feedback, the onsite file review and reviewer feedback, will go to the Review Oversight Committee (ROC), which determines your final score.

  4. Renew Your Accreditation

    NCQA ACO Accreditation is awarded for 2 years if you are at Level 1 or for 3 years if you are at Level 2 or 3. 

    Before accreditation expires, you must complete another agreement, submit all requisite fees and undergo a full survey to renew accreditation status. 

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