The National Committee for Quality Assurance is a private, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. Since its founding in 1990, NCQA has been a central figure in driving improvement throughout the health care system, helping to elevate the issue of health care quality to the top of the national agenda.
The NCQA seal is a widely recognized symbol of quality. Organizations incorporating the seal into advertising and marketing materials must first pass a rigorous, comprehensive review and must annually report on their performance. For consumers and employers, the seal is a reliable indicator that an organization is well-managed and delivers high quality care and service.
NCQA has helped to build consensus around important health care quality issues by working with large employers, policymakers, doctors, patients and health plans to decide what’s important, how to measure it, and how to promote improvement. That consensus is invaluable — transforming our health care system requires the collected will and resources of all these constituencies and more.
NCQA’s programs and services reflect a straightforward formula for improvement: Measure. Analyze. Improve. Repeat. NCQA makes this process possible in health care by developing quality standards and performance measures for a broad range of health care entities. These measures and standards are the tools that organizations and individuals can use to identify opportunities for improvement. The annual reporting of performance against such measures has become a focal point for the media, consumers, and health plans, which use these results to set their improvement agendas for the following year.
NCQA’s contribution to the health care system is regularly measured in the form of statistics that track the quality of care delivered by the nation’s health plans. Every year for the past five years, these numbers have improved; health care protocols have been refined, doctors have learned new ways to practice, and patients have become more engaged in their care. Those improvements in quality care translate into lives saved, illnesses avoided and costs reduced. For instance, for every additional person who receives beta blockers after a heart attack, chances of suffering a second, perhaps fatal, heart attack are reduced by up to 40%.
NCQA consistently raises the bar. Accredited health plans today face a rigorous set of more than 60 standards and must report on their performance in more than 40 areas in order to earn NCQA’s seal of approval. And even more stringent standards are being developed today. These standards will promote the adoption of strategies that we believe will improve care, enhance service and reduce costs, such as paying providers based on performance, leveraging the Web to give consumers more information, disease management and physician-level measurement.
Health plans in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are NCQA Accredited. These plans cover 109 million Americans or 70.5 percent of all Americans enrolled in health plans.
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