NCQA seeks input on standards for specialty medical homes

June 20, 2012

Coordinating patient care with specialists is among the biggest challenges most primary care doctors face. Now you have an opportunity to share your solutions.

If you’re like many primary care physicians (PCPs), you know how challenging it can be to communicate with specialists in caring for your patients. Now you have a chance to say how you think communication between PCPs and specialists can be improved.

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), the governing body that sets quality standards for evaluating Patient-Centered Medical Homes (PCMHs) and other healthcare entities, is asking for public input on the standards it is developing to evaluate specialty-based PCMHs, which include coordination with PCPs.

Comments are being accepted until 5 p.m. July 6.

The NCQA has tentatively titled its program for recognizing specialty-based PCMHs the NCQA Specialty Practice Recognition program. The association said in a news release that in the process of developing the program, it has learned that “one of the barriers to effective care coordination is the breakdown of communication between specialists and primary care providers.” The lack of communication and coordination leads to inadequate access and duplication of services, according to the organization.

“The draft program requirements include an expectation that practices establish agreements with PCPs regarding how they expect to work together,” Patricia Barrett, vice president of product development for NCQA, tells Medical Economics. “This includes the kind of information the specialist needs to receive as well as what they will provide back and the timeframe in which it will occur. The practices are also required to monitor how often those expectations are met, in both directions, and take action to improve if things aren’t going according to the agreement.”

After the public comment period is closed, the NCQA will review the findings with a multi-stakeholder advisory committee. It plans to launch the Specialty Practice Recognition program in the first quarter of next year.

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