NCQA Sets New, Higher Standards for Medical Homes
The National Committee for Quality Assurance has released a next-generation set of standards for patient-centered medical homes, called PCMH 2014.
The accreditation organization uses the standards to assess primary care practices seeking NCQA PCMH Recognition. About 7,000 practice sites with 35,500 clinicians have received recognition and that accounts for more than 10 percent of the nations practices, according to NCQA.
The new standards cover six primary areas: patient-centered access, team-based care, population health management, care management and support, care coordination and care transitions, and performance measurement and quality improvement.
Further, there are six must-pass elements necessary for recognition: patient-centered appointment access, components of the practice team, using data for population management, care planning and self-care support, referral tracking and follow-up, and implementing continuous quality improvement.
To earn NCQA recognition, practices must meet rigorous standards for addressing patient needs; for example, offering access after office hours and online so patients can get care and advice where and when they need it, according to the organization. PCMHs get to know patients in long-term partnerships, rather than through hurried, sporadic visits. They make treatment decisions with their patients, based on patient preference. They help patients become engaged in their own healthy behaviors and healthcare.
NCQA also continues to emphasize the importance of meaningful use of health information technology and health information exchange to support coordinated and patient-centered care, across provider sites.
According to NCQA, changes in the new standards include:
* Integrating behavioral health into a practice: Practices are expected to collaborate with behavioral health providers and communicate the benefits of such treatment to patients.
* Focusing care management on high-need populations: Practices are expected to address socioeconomic drivers of health and poorly controlled or complex conditions.
* Enhanced emphasis on team-based care: This includes a higher emphasis on collaboration with patients and establishing team-based care as a must-pass criterion.
* Implementing the Triple Aim of care: Practices must demonstrate improving use of the three domains of Triple Aim--patient experience, cost and clinical quality.
* Sustained transformation: Practices must show they comply with NCQA standards over long periods.
The new patient-centered medical home standards are available here.