The National Committee for Quality Assurance says it will begin an accreditation program for medical groups two years from now. Still in development, the program would provide third-party judgment of physicians across plans.
Many plans now issue their own report cards on physician group performance. Given that HMOs' and NCQA's underlying reasons for wanting to drive improvement may differ, the degrees to which plans buy into NCQA physician-group ratings and to which physicians see their value as more than just another review may determine NCQA's success in this arena.
How people use physician-evaluation information is unproven, but PacifiCare of California provides an interesting case study. The HMO says the release of its third "Quality Index" shows a strong correlation between physician groups' marks and the enrollment preferences of new members.