The National Committee for Quality Assurance (“NCQA”) awarded its first Accountable Care Organization (“ACO”) accreditations in December, 2012. Established as a voluntary accreditation program in 2011, the NCQA awarded accreditations to the following organizations: Billings Clinic, Crystal Run Healthcare, HealthPartners and Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. The NCQA website contains detailed information regarding ACO Accreditation.
In general, NCQA Accreditation includes evaluation of seven categories:
- ACO Structure and Operations
- Access to Needed Providers
- Patient-Centered Primary Care
- Care Management
- Care Coordination and Transitions
- Patient Rights and Responsibilities
- Performance Reporting and Quality Improvement
In contrast to those organizations that raced to the ACO accreditation finish line, overall ACO readiness has been elusive for hospital/health system ACOs. The Commonwealth Fund published a report from the Premier Research Institute (Premier) in December, 2012, finding a generally low level of readiness across 59 hospital organizations who were members of the Premier Partnership for Care Transformation (PACT) Readiness Collaborative.
To assess readiness, Premier assessed ACOs progress by evaluation of six core components: a patient-centered foundation, primary care medical home, a high-value network, payer partnership, population health data management, and ACO leadership. Although the hospital organizations were part of PACT for the purpose of easing the transition to accountable care, the report finds that no organization achieved full implementation of the six core components and several failed to undertake a single activity relative to the core components.