How to Prepare for NCQA’s Data Aggregator Validation (DAV)
Emerging technologies, evolving standards and new programs are now converging and revolutionizing the way health data is used. One of the big pushes was to empower clinicians to document in electronic health record systems so that providers and teams could quickly find the information they needed to provide interventions. We are now entering into a new evolution of digitalization where we are focused on tackling the obstacles that come with exchanging and using that information that has been entered into those systems. As health data enthusiasts, we’ve been keeping a close eye on NCQA’s new Data Aggregator Validation (DAV) program so that we can continue to support the evolution to more effective data exchange and success with value-based programs.
Earning NCQA DAV status is no small feat. Rigorous requirements, tight timelines and dependencies on your participants can all make the process difficult – even in the best of scenarios. We’ve listened to presentations, read blogs, talked with those in the community, and even started participating in the first cohort ourselves. We’ve compiled all of our learnings to provide you this list. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind to ensure your team has a successful validation process.
Plan around the standards
The first thing NCQA recommends you do is to review the standards, and there is a good reason for this step. As you contemplate if DAV is right for you, start by scrutinizing how your end-to-end aggregation process is aligned to the DAV standards. How do you onboard new data sources, what procedures exist to appropriately capture the data, and subsequently transform it to pass it on to other participants?
Not sure you are ready to pay for the manual? Check out this resource that links you to the manual’s table of contents so you can see a list of the program standards.
Jump into the details
Beyond a review of your aggregation policies and procedures, DAV also has a primary source verification (PSV) component to confirm that data integrity is maintained throughout. You’ll need to be ready to demonstrate validity of aggregation details at the data element level. Here is an example of the level of detail you may need during this process.
Don’t discount the need for participant engagement
The whole point of the DAV is to reduce manual chart chases. From the clinician that documents the care to the health plan that reports the performance, everyone will benefit. While this may be true, you are dependent on your data submitters to assist you in the PSV process to validate the data. Know that if you are participating in the DAV process outside of HEDIS timelines, participants may be reluctant to work with you. Make sure you proactively create a stakeholder engagement plan to prevent your DAV process from being derailed. We’ve heard others preach on the benefit of bringing health plans and others in the community in on communications to provide a united messaging strategy and align incentives to participate in DAV efforts.
Manage your resources well
We’ve heard time and again that the 18-week process is rigorous and devoting resources can be a challenge for any aggregator, especially those with limited resources. Working smart and having the right resources aligned can help you save time while still maintaining your infrastructure to support operations and other strategic priorities. The DAV process and its steps are spelled out, which helps you to know what to expect. To optimize resources, you can assign technical team members to CCD conformance testing, while in parallel reporting team members can be working on sharing the required documentation and account managers can be working 1:1 with the data submitters during the PSV process.
Rely on your partners
Going through the DAV process doesn’t have to be difficult. You receive, store, and share data every day, and you usually do this with the assistance of data partners. Identifying your partners and what role they play in the aggregation process can make demonstrating adherence to the standards easier. More tangibly, partners that have earned DAV Data Partner status have demonstrated that their technology is certified on certain standards within the program. Aggregators that use DAV Data Partners may benefit from easier documentation preparation, saving time and alleviating administrative efforts associated with meeting DAV standards.
Aggregators must think strategically about how earning DAV status will impact their organizations. The benefits of DAV can improve efficiency, provide more comprehensive and real-time information, and create the opportunity for more proactive population health – be it for a health plan, a health system, an accountable care organization or a provider. Making sure you have the resources to meet the growing needs can’t be an afterthought. You should be anticipating how revalidation fees will be built into your annual budget plans, as well as keeping a pulse on the resources that are being allocated to continuing to build out the value proposition, whether that be with seeking validation of new data clusters, onboarding more health plans, or building out the additional use cases.
Prepare your health plans
Imagine going through this rigorous 18-week program, only to find out when it comes time to share the CCDs with your health plans, they cannot ingest the files. If your heart sank reading that sentence like mine did, make sure you start having conversations with your health plans, their auditors and internal information technology teams now on how you can help remove the friction ingesting the DAV-validated data to be used as HEDIS® standard supplemental data.
Aggregators can have the best data, but in the end, if it is not DAV-validated, it will be more difficult for health plans and other participants to feel the real value of your data and services. If you want to facilitate better, more effective health care and prevent burdensome data processes, you must think proactively about how you can be successful with opportune programs like NCQA’s DAV.
About the Author
VP of Population Health at KPI Ninja, Inc.
Renee provides operational leadership of quality initiatives at KPI Ninja. Towne has a background in occupational therapy, education and experience in operational excellence across a variety of healthcare domains. Based on prior experience as a clinician that drove outcomes patient by patient, she is leaving a larger footprint by improving health care more comprehensively, population by population.
About KPI Ninja
KPI Ninja is a data analytics company that helps healthcare organizations accelerate their quality, safety, and financial goals with a unique combination of software and service. We are differentiated by our signature mix of technology, performance management consulting and healthcare expertise. We don’t merely offer software solutions but work shoulder to shoulder with clients to help them draw on the power of analytics and continuous improvement methodologies to become more efficient. In harmony with our data-centered ethos, we truly believe that our success is strongly co-related with yours.