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NCQA Redesigns Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition Program

By Sandra Gittlen  
   March 22, 2017

Based on provider and payer feedback, the revised program will feature annual check-ins and reporting instead of the current program's three-year recognition cycle.

When the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) releases the 2017 iteration of its Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) recognition standard in April, Marc Mayer, DO, president and medical director at Avenel-Iselin Medical Group, a multispecialty healthcare practice with more than 12 physicians in Iselin, New Jersey, will be excited to see major changes.

Mayer's practice first received NCQA PCMH recognition in 2011 and re-upped its status to Level 3 in 2014. He calls both experiences "pretty intense" and hopes the adjustments in 2017 will provide consistency and clarity that the application submission and review process currently lack, he says.

NCQA's PCMH is one of several PCMH recognition programs in the country to ensure primary care practices live up to the promise of the patient-centered medical home. For NCQA, that means inspiring quality in care, cultivating more engaging patient relationships, and capturing savings through expanded access and delivery options that align patient preferences with payer and provider capabilities.

Today, 17% of primary care practices, or 55,000 clinicians, carry NCQA's PCMH designation, according to NCQA, an increase from 100 when it was first introduced in 2008.

NCQA's intent in creating the standard, which can take three months to a year to meet through documentation, was to "acknowledge a need to elevate the status of primary care in this country to make it more attractive for professionals to go into and to make it a more joyful practice," says Patricia Barrett, vice president of product design and support at NCQA.

In summer 2016, NCQA called for input on the next version of the standard and received 3,000 comments from participating organizations. Although they were "generally positive," Barrett says they proved a need to redesign the process, including how applications are reviewed, the availability of submission assistance, and more clarity in expectations.

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