The National Committee for Quality Assurance said it would begin to measure health plans' excellence in online member communications, quality improvement incentive programs and management of chronic conditions. The NCQA said its new "Quality Plus" standards supplement current quality reporting and accreditation efforts -- representing an additional hurdle for the most innovative industry leaders. Proposed "member connections" standards, released today, cover health plans' use of communications tools, such as the Internet, to allow members to track claims, access interactive educational materials and engage in health risk assessments. Comments are due Sept. 15.
Proposals for the other standards will be released in March 2005. One set will address how consistently health plans report on quality of care by hospitals and physicians, whether plans have incentive programs to improve provider quality, and whether plans incentivize members to select high-quality providers. The other set will deal with management of chronic conditions. Read more on the NCQA Web site. -- by Modern Physician/MPStat