The National Committee for Quality Assurance and the AMA hit upon an agreement intended to reduce paperwork for physicians. NCQA will allow health plans to use data from AMA's American Medical Accreditation Program to satisfy NCQA's credentialing standards.
Though only a smattering of health plans use AMAP physician-credentialing standards, the AMA expects many more to do so now that physicians will no longer be subjected to duplicate credentialing processes.
NCQA, meanwhile, has begun listing health plans' accreditation status by the new categories established in its Accreditation '99 program. Forty plans achieved the status of "excellent," a designation NCQA President Margaret O'Kane says would probably have been unattainable, by NCQA's definition, for any plan three years ago. Of the 265 plans that have sought NCQA accreditation, 166 are ranked commendable -- a step below excellent -- followed by accredited (38) and provisional (8). Another 15 were denied accreditation, one saw its accreditation revoked, and that of another plan is under review.