|New NCQA Program To Evaluate Wellness And Health Promotion
The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA)
released proposed standards and measures for a new wellness and health
promotion (WHP) product evaluation suite.
The program will examine organizations that provide
services to employers and health plans that seek to help employees and
other participants better manage their own health.
Nearly two-thirds of employers in the United States
offer such services, including health coaching, smoking cessation and
obesity management programs.
"The three biggest contributors to rising health costs
and declining health in America — smoking, poor diet and lack of
exercise — are avoidable risks. Effective wellness programs lay
out a clear, achievable approach to help people make healthy decisions
every day," said Patricia Barrett, NCQA vice president for product
development. "This new program will help employers safeguard the health
and productivity of their employees by choosing the best programs
The proposed programs reflect the wide variety of health
promotion services currently offered in the market. 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 is also proposing a separate accreditation program
for organizations that offer stand-alone weight management or smoking
"Employee health management is quickly becoming an
accepted practice among an increasing number of employers. At the same
time, the field has become more complex and there may be questions of
accountability," said Bill Whitmer, president and CEO of the Health
Enhancement Research Organization, a coalition of employers and others
that promote prevention and disease management. "Accurately defining
program quality, establishing standards and holding organizations
accountable constitutes a major step forward in our shared effort to
control health costs, manage work performance and improve employee
NCQA’s new WHP program will examine whether
wellness companies use evidence-based methods to improve and maintain
good health. The comprehensive accreditation program assesses several
key areas in health promotion, including whether:
- Wellness programs are implemented in the workplace;
- Individual health information is properly safeguarded;
- Services such as coaching are provided to help participants develop skills to make healthy choices; and
- Continuous efforts to improve program quality are in place.
Address: National Committee for Quality Assurance, 1100 13th Street, NW, Suite 1000, Washington DC 20005; (202)955-3500, www.ncqa.org.