NCQA awards first ACO accreditation

By Anthony Brino
04:06 PM

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has announced its first accreditation for an accountable care organization (ACO), providing a three year accreditation for the Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, a network of 20 clinics around Houston, and the area’s largest multi-specialty physician group practice.

The NCQA accreditation process, which began accepting applications in March, evaluates 14 standard areas and 65 specific components of the ACO, including the range of provider access, patient-centered primary care, care management and transition coordinations, hospitalization and utilization rates, patient rights and performance reporting and quality improvements.

“Kelsey-Seybold has demonstrated to payers and other purchasers that it has met challenging requirements designed to show the efficiency, integration and high quality expected of an accountable care organization,” NCQA President Margare O’Kane said in a media release.

The accreditation is also designed to help employers evaluate an ACO. ACOs like the Medicare Shared Savings Program have emerged as key delivery reforms under the Affordable Care Act, with many eyes ready to look for progress over the next several years.

The NCQA ACO accreditation, largely aligned with CMS standards, is designating new ACOs at either levels one or two, with the possibility of reaching level 3 designation based on performance and quality improvements. Kelsey-Seybold, one of six organizations that applied for accreditation, has been designated at level two.

Clinical reporting requires fairly robust IT systems, as Maine HealthInfoNet is also demonstrating with a new foray into clinical data warehousing. The Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, formed in 1949 on the model of the Mayo Clinic, has been fairly wired for some time, completing a five-year $25 million EHR rollout in 2010.

By 2010, many doctors were using voice-recognition tools for notetaking, Spencer Berthelsen, MD, chairman of Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, told the Houston Business Journal at the time. “Now most, if not all of our doctors prefer the electronic record,” he said.