Friday, November 25, 2011

"Multicultural Health Care Distinction" Offered to Health Care Organizations

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has developed the Multicultural Health Care (MHC) Distinction Program. MHC Distinction is a voluntary program that aligns with NCQA’s Accreditation standards for insurers and other health care organizations. Organizations can earn MHC Distinction by meeting rigorous and practical requirements for assessing and improving efforts to meet individuals’ cultural and linguistic needs.

Roadmap for Meeting Standards & Addressing Disparities: NCQA’s MHC standards and guidelines show how to meet, and even exceed, federal Office of Minority Health (OMH) culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS) standards. Not only can NCQA help organizations comply with state OMH CLAS requirements, federal, state and other payers could deem organizations with NCQA MHC Distinction as satisfying OMH CLAS standards. MHC Distinction also helps establish benchmarks for tracking improvement and measuring what works in meeting CLAS standards and reducing disparities in health care. Each of the program expectations is in a set of standards. NCQA awards points towards the MHC Distinction based on how closely an organization’s activities meet the standards.

Through initiatives that help earn MHC Distinction “we can drill down by race, ethnicity, language—even zip code on disparities we want to improve,“ says Mary K Stom, MD, chief medical officer and senior vice president of healthcare management, Health Partners of Philadelphia, the first to receive NCQA’s MHC Distinction. “By looking at data in ways we didn’t before, we see what we were doing well and can apply that to new activities.” This helped identify, for example, cultural barriers inhibiting good perinatal care in inner city African American neighborhoods. “We learned that women in these communities trust relatives and neighbors more than our nurses and education. So now we’re educating entire neighborhoods, not just pregnant women on that block.”

MHC Distinction builds on NCQA’s work with Lilly to develop the Multicultural Health Care: A Quality Improvement Guide, now interactive online at
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