NCQA to evaluate wellness programs

June 30, 2008

The National Committee for Quality Assurance’s (NCQA’s) proposed standards and measures for a new Wellness and Health Promotion (WHP) product evaluation have been released for public comment.

The National Committee for Quality Assurance’s (NCQA’s) proposed standards and measures for a new Wellness and Health Promotion (WHP) product evaluation have been released for public comment.

The program will examine organizations that provide health and wellness services to employers and health plans. The WHP product suite includes a broad-based accreditation program for organizations that offer comprehensive wellness services as well as certification for organizations that only offer specific components such as health appraisals and self-management tools. NCQA also is proposing a separate accreditation program for organizations that offer stand-alone weight management or smoking cessation programs.

“Development and implementation of wellness programs has been the trend for the last several years,” says MHE Editorial Advisor Paula Sauer, vice president of care management at Medical Mutual of Ohio. “The new measurement system will allow employers and managed care executives to select a wellness vendor that has undergone a significant external review process.”

At the same time, employers will be able to evaluate and compare vendors, she adds.

As with any new accreditation program, health plans will have to evaluate their current programs, identify any missing items and implement changes that are needed to ensure compliance with the standards, according to Sauer.

“This will take human resource time and potential additional financial investments,” she says.

After public comment, NCQA will revise both standards and measures, as well as revise based on results from pilot testing and field testing.

“We are now analyzing the pilot tests for the standards and will field test the measures [this month],” NCQA spokesperson Lauren Funk tells MHE.

In September, both go to NCQA’s Health Promotion Advisory Committee, then the NCQA Standards Committee and Committee for Performance Measurement later in the fall for approval. Final approval by the Board of Directors is scheduled for December, and the program is scheduled to launch early 2009.

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