NCQA names first ACOs

The National Committee for Quality Assurance last week named six organizations as accountable care organizations: HealthPartners in Minnesota, Billings (Mont.) Clinic, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Essentia Health in Minnesota, Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in Houston, and Crystal Run Healthcare in New York, according to a HealthPartners statement.

Like the Shared Savings ACO designation through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, the NCQA accreditation is voluntary. NCQA last year announced it as a way for healthcare organizations to demonstrate ACO readiness, as they must pass a series of measures.

Called a set of "challenging requirements designed to show the efficiency, integration and high quality," according to NCQA President Margaret E. O'Kane, the NCQA ACOs undergo an assessment of 14 standards and 65 elements, including access to providers, patient-centered primary care, care management, care coordination and transitions, performance reporting and quality, according to a statement. The ACO accreditation is valid for three years.

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia said it sought ACO accreditation "to show that it is able to meet all of these requirements and to demonstrate that it will be transparent about its capabilities and performance," the hospital noted in a FAQ statement. Children's Hospital added that the accreditation "establishes CHOP as a national leader in the movement."

Experts say ACO accreditation could become the norm, whether through the independent nonprofit agency of NCQA or another group, particularly because there are organizations with self-designated ACO titles in the marketplace. However, accreditation will cost providers time and money that they must factor into the process.

For more information:
- read the HealthPartners statement
- see the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia statement and FAQ

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