Calling All Family Physicians

Tell NCQA How to Improve PCMH Recognition Process

March 19, 2015 03:42 pm News Staff
[Woman holding up

"We want your ideas."

Consider those words a direct request from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) as the organization plunges into what NCQA EVP Michael Barr, M.D., calls an "ambitious redesign" of the organization's patient-centered medical home (PCMH) recognition program.

Barr, who oversees NCQA research, analysis and performance measurement, makes the appeal in a March 10 blog post( titled "PCMH: We're Better With Your Ideas."

"This is an invitation to those who live on the front lines of care," writes Barr. "That includes patients receiving care and those who work with patients, families and caregivers to deliver care," he says.

Persons interested in offering input -- and many FPs have personal experiences with PCMH recognition on which to draw -- are encouraged to email NCQA at with their suggestions.

Story Highlights
  • The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) is redesigning its patient-centered medical home recognition program.
  • NCQA invites physicians and other stakeholders to make suggestions about how to improve the program.
  • Using input from family physicians, the AAFP has already been involved in discussions with NCQA about simplifying the recognition program.

According to Barr, the program upgrade will include components that aim to

  • reinforce the connection between PCMH recognition and a practice's actual performance on quality, cost and patient experience metrics;
  • enhance practice engagement but reduce recognition-based work that doesn't add value to the practice;
  • leverage physicians' investments in health IT to support PCMH recognition efforts; and
  • align PCMH recognition work with other reporting requirements.

Barr acknowledges that the organization has already received a barrage of recommendations, suggestions and critiques from individuals as well as from national physician organizations such as the AAFP.

Amy Mullins, M.D., AAFP medical director for quality improvement, says in a Feb. 10 guest editorial in AAFP News that the Academy has been in discussions with the NCQA about how to improve the organization's recognition process to make it more meaningful to family physicians.

Mullins notes that she has been through the "long, tedious and costly" recognition process herself -- twice -- and certainly understands physicians' frustration.

For example, Mullins tells AAFP News that members also express concern with the energy-draining process and say NCQA support is lacking. Family physicians generally don't see a connection between mandatory checklists and the provision of quality patient care. And the thought of going through the entire application process every three years is downright depressing to some, she adds.

In her editorial, Mullins says the AAFP is "more than happy" to share family physician feedback with the NCQA.

Mullins writes that the NCQA "not only heard our concerns, it says it plans to do something about them." She points out that some of the AAFP's suggestions on improving the program match up nicely with points made in Barr's blog.

For instance, NCQA says it is looking at

  • providing more guidance to practices through new channels including live support and improved customer service;
  • reducing the documentation burden; and
  • offering practices a streamlined annual check-in system, thereby eliminating a full practice review every three years as is now required.

"NCQA appreciates the challenges associated with the PCMH recognition process," writes Barr. "We are enthusiastic about the positive feedback received to date regarding the redesign elements … and we are committed to continuing the dialogue because we know that getting the redesign right will require the insights of our customers and other interested parties."

The NCQA pledges to provide regular updates on the process.

An NCQA spokesperson told AAFP News there was no fixed deadline on the redesign process. "Our PCMH redesign will be iterative and will continue for weeks or months," he said.

So let it fly, family docs. The NCQA is all ears!

More From AAFP
In the Trenches Blog: Creating a Medical Home is About Improvement, Not Checking Boxes.

Additional Resource
NCQA Statement: PCMH Recognition Program Redesign and Online Feedback(