NCQA has launched a new program to recognize the role of specialists in the patient-centered medical home, Internal Medicine News reported.
The typical U.S. primary care physician coordinates with 229 physicians across 117 different practices, estimates the National Committee for Quality Assurance, adding that the average Medicare beneficiary sees seven physicians and fills more than 20 prescriptions each year.
"The opportunity for gaps to emerge among all those complex relationships—or for things to happen that really are in conflict with each other—obviously is great," Margaret O'Kane, NCQA president, said during a press conference.
The Patient-Centered Specialty Practice Recognition Program, which launched March 25, evaluates how well specialists, such as oncologists, cardiologists and endocrinologists, perform in providing access, communication and care coordination for their patients. Based on the concept of the medical home 'neighbor' developed by the American College of Physicians, the specialty program follows the same model as the NCQA's medical home recognition program for PCPs.
In exchange for pricing discounts and publicity, 64 specialist organizations have enrolled as early adopters of the new recognition program, Health Data Management reported. These organizations have committed to completing certain parts of the process, which is aligned with electronic health records meaningful use criteria, by the end of 2013.