NCQA Encourages Health IT Use Among Medical Specialists

August 4, 2012
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Medical specialists are being encouraged to use more health information technology (health IT) thanks to a new program to be launched by The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) in 2013. The program encourages medical specialists to coordinate care with patients’ primary care doctors through the use of health IT. The new specialty practice recognition program is geared towards specialty recognition in patient-centered medical homes (PCMH), to facilitate improved access to specialty consultations by primary care physicians.

Medical specialists are being encouraged to use more health information technology (health IT) thanks to a new program to be launched by The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) in 2013. The program encourages medical specialists to coordinate care with patients’ primary care doctors through the use of health IT. The new specialty practice recognition program is geared towards specialty recognition in patient-centered medical homes (PCMH), to facilitate improved access to specialty consultations by primary care physicians. As part of the program, NCQA will recognize specialty practices that accomplish the following:

  1. Coordinated care
  2. Timely access to care
  3. Utilization of information technology to prevent costly duplication of tests
  4. Facilitate better communication with patients
  5. Support ongoing improvement in quality of care

Many of the standards mirror the proposed requirements for Meaningful Use Stage 2 set forth in the federal government’s electronic health record (EHR) incentive program, with several marked differences. For example, unlike with the EHR program, specialists will be recognized in the PCMH program even if they are not “meaningful users” of EHRs, and a specialist’s use of EHRs, in and of itself, will not necessarily demonstrate a sufficient effort to improve communications with primary care physicians and patients. Learn more about some of NCQA’s proposed standards online here.