Distinction in Multicultural Health Care Process

The typical evaluation time frame for earning NCQA Distinction in Multicultural Health Care 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.

Before Applying


  1. Overview Discussion

    Begin with a discussion with an NCQA business development representative at least 12 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 with a current Distinction in Multicultural Health Care that want to renew should submit a request through My NCQA.

  2. Purchase the Standards and Survey Tool

    Purchase the standards and guidelines and the survey tool 9–11 months from the desired survey start date.

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

  3. Perform a 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.

  4. Submit Pre-Application Form

    To initiate the application process, contact your business development representative to request a pre-application form.


    • Reviews the pre-application form to determine your organization’s readiness and eligibility for survey.
    • Provides an online application link, typically within 1–2 business days after receiving the form.
  5. Complete and Submit 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 application scheduling account representative (ASAR) will be available to answer questions about the application process. After NCQA receives the completed application, the ASAR will contact your organization to finalize the survey start date.

    See the Online Application User’s Guide and FAQs for information about the application process.


After Applying

  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 3 months before the survey start date, an Accreditation Services Coordinator will contact your organization 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 Distinction in Multicultural Health Care

    NCQA determines Distinction in Multicultural Health Care within 90 days from survey submission.

    • After the survey, NCQA sends your organization a preliminary report.
    • You have 2 weeks 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 Distinction

    NCQA Distinction in Multicultural Health Care is awarded for 2 years.

    Every 2 years, organizations must complete another agreement, submit all requisite fees and undergo a full survey to renew distinction status. NCQA assigns a date for the next required survey.

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