NCQA Seeks Comment on Patient-centered Medical Homes

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) is seeking input on a new program that applies the principles of patient-centered medical homes to specialty practices. Comments are being accepted through July 11. The agency also plans to conduct pilot testing in specialties with interviews.

The patient-centered medical home is “a health care setting that facilitates partnerships between individual patients, and their personal physicians, and when appropriate, the patient’s family,” NCQA explains. “Care is facilitated by registries, information technology, health information exchange, and other means to assure that patients get the indicated care when and where they need and want it in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner.”

The program, NCQA says, has proved popular with primary care providers. “As this program has grown, NCQA has been approached by specialty practices that wish to be considered as patient-centered medical homes,” the organization said in a news release. “At the same time, we have learned that one of the barriers to effective care coordination is the breakdown of communication between specialists and primary-care providers.”

NCQA says the proposed program will build on the Patient-centered Medical Home model and specialists’ strong commitment to patient-centered care. The program will align with meaningful use of electronic health records (EHR), including the final requirements for Stage 2 of the EHR incentive programs. Specialists who meet the program’s standards will be able to apply starting in early 2013.

Studies have shown that lack of communication and coordination between primary care and specialty practices leads to inadequate access, duplication of services, and poor coordination of care. The new program will recognize specialty practices that:

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  • coordinate care
  • provide timely access to care
  • use information technology to reduce duplicative tests
  • improve communications with patients; and
  • support continuous quality improvement.

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