FOCUS OF THE WEEK
NCQA Proposes Integration of Medical Homes and Ambulatory Clinics
July 15, 2014, 11:02:40 AM
Katie Sullivan, MA
The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) proposed a program that would integrate patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs) with nontraditional ambulatory sites. If adopted, the program would assess the quality of care delivered at practices such as ambulatory care, urgent care centers, retail clinics, and worksite clinics. The organization specifically hopes to analyze whether these nontraditional ambulatory sites are connecting patients back to primary care providers.

“PCMHs’ power in improving the quality, cost, and experience of primary care, however, only begins the broad change our healthcare system needs,” said a recent NCQA release. “Other providers and facilities must build on PCMH foundations to establish patient-centered care throughout all of healthcare.”

The clinical performance measures would vary by facility type — retail clinics would be required to monitor 5 quality metrics, while urgent care clinics would measure 9. Worksite clinics would have 14, the highest number of metrics of all site types.

NCQA noted that these nontraditional ambulatory sites have seen a rise in patient visits because many consumers utilize them as a 1st site of care. For example, retail clinics can treat minor health problems, while pharmacies can assist with immunizations or wellness screenings.

“As these options gain in popularity and scope, it becomes increasingly important to share information between them and PCMHs,” the NCQA release continued.

The NCQA announced it would accept public comment about the proposed program until August 6th. By implementing virtual neighborhoods that integrate nontraditional ambulatory sites with medical homes, it hopes the program will reduce the fragmentation of patient care.

“As the use of telemedicine and ambulatory care clinics providing convenient, episodic care grows, so does the need to assimilate them into the ‘medical home neighborhood’ and to ensure that information about care they deliver is shared with the medical home,” said Patricia Barrett, NCQA Vice President of Product Development. “Public comment will help NCQA craft a program that encourages communication and supports quality.”

Around the Web

New NCQA Program Would Mesh Ambulatory Clinics, Medical Homes [Modern Healthcare]

The Future of Patient-Centered Medical Homes [NCQA]

Help Shape How NCQA Evaluates Ambulatory Care Clinics [NCQA]