FAQs: Distinction in Multicultural Health Care

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about NCQA Distinction in Multicultural Health Care. If you don’t see what you are looking for below, you can search NCQA’s database of additional common questions or ask a question through My NCQA.

What is NCQA Distinction in Multicultural Health Care?

Race, language and culture can have an impact on disparities in treatment and health outcomes. NCQA Distinction in Multicultural Health Care tries to close these gaps: It evaluates how well organizations identify the needs of and provide care to groups with different racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, how organizations provide culturally and linguistically sensitive services and how they work to reduce health care disparities.

How does Distinction in Multicultural Health Care help our organization?

NCQA standards are a roadmap for how organizations can deliver high-quality care. The standards focus on collecting race and language data, and using this information to respond to members from different cultures, including through Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) programs.

NCQA standards also support quality improvement and patient experience efforts that can help reduce health disparities.

Organizations can use the standards to identify potential deficiencies in care delivery and improve the care they deliver. This is good for patients, but by reducing disparities and improving care, organizations can lower overall health care costs and become a more attractive partner to contract with.

What are the requirements for NCQA Distinction?

NCQA Distinction in Multicultural Health Care is earned by meeting a set of requirements that include:

Race/Ethnicity & Language Data

  • Collect members’ ethnicity/language data.
  • Use a validated methodology to estimate ethnic population percentages based on reported data.
  • Use a system of effective data storage and retrieval for ethnic and linguistic information.
  • Report the HEDIS® Diversity of Membership measures.
  • Identify “threshold languages” spoken by 5% of the membership (or 1,000 members, whichever population is smaller).

Language Services

  • Demonstrate use of competent translators; provide timely, high-quality translation of member materials.
  • Provide practitioners with data on the language preferences of their patients; train them on providing language services; offer language assistance resources.
  • Regularly notify members of the availability of language services.

Practitioner Network Cultural Responsiveness

  • Collect and publish information on the languages contracted providers speak fluently, or languages for which translation services are offered.
  • Collect and disclose provider race/ethnicity data upon request.
  • Analyze the provider network’s ability to serve members’ language needs and develop ways to address gaps.

CLAS Standards Program

  • Adopt a program description or work plan listing measurable goals for reducing disparities that ethnic and linguistic minorities experience, and include plans to monitor and evaluate services against measurable goals.
  • Conduct an annual analysis of activities to achieve performance improvement in reducing disparities, evaluate progress and trending in measurable outcomes.

Reducing Health Care Disparities

  • Collect, report and analyze clinical quality and patient experience measures by race, ethnicity and primary language, and compare outcomes.
  • Target interventions to improve disparities in relevant care measures, and continually evaluate their effectiveness.

Find the standards for NCQA Distinction in Multicultural Health Care in the Standards and Guidelines document.

Where can I find the Standards and Guidelines?

Find the Standards and Guidelines document, the survey tool and application in the NCQA Store.

What organizations are eligible for Distinction in Multicultural Health Care?

NCQA Distinction in Multicultural Health Care is available to many types of organizations that perform functions specified in the standards and guidelines, or that arrange for services to be performed directly or through an agreement; for example:

  • Managed health care.
  • Population health management.
  • Disease management.
  • Wellness.
  • Managed behavioral healthcare.

Organizations must also:

  • Have been in operation for at least six months.
  • Perform functions required by in the standards.
  • Comply with applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations, including requirements for licensure.
  • Operate without discrimination based on sex, race, creed or national origin.
  • Have a quality improvement process.

Find full eligibility criteria in the Standards and Guidelines document.

Do we need to be accredited to earn NCQA Distinction in Multicultural Health Care?

No. You are not required to already be accredited/certified to earn NCQA Distinction in Multicultural Health Care.

How do we earn Distinction in Multicultural Health Care?

Organizations must go through a survey process that involves submitting documentation to NCQA. See a step-by-step process.

How much does Distinction in Multicultural Health Care cost?

The price varies by organization. Contact NCQA for more information on pricing.

How long will it take to earn Distinction in Multicultural Health Care?

It depends on how many program requirements you have already implemented. After you submit the survey, it takes approximately 60–90 days to receive a decision from NCQA. NCQA recommends that you perform a gap analysis and begin implementing changes in your organization from 9–12 months before the date when you want to earn distinction.

How do we start?

If your organization does not have a current distinction and is interested in learning more, contact NCQA.

If you already have a distinction and want to talk to someone about your current status or about renewing, submit a question through My NCQA.

Have other organizations earned Distinction in Multicultural Health Care?

Find a list of organizations that have earned distinction in the NCQA Report Card.

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