By Cammy Elquist LoRé
Example of Strategy in Action: NCQA Ensures Quality Makes a Difference for All

As we move through 2013, we will be regularly sharing examples of organizations that are making strategy work. This installment shines a spotlight on the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), a private not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality in America.

Video: Four Principles for the Open World

Founded in 1990, NCQA has been a central figure in driving improvement throughout the health care system. Since founding, they have helped to identify and elevate key quality issues by garnering the consensus of doctors, patients, large employers, and policymakers. NCQA’s related quality seal of approval includes passing a rigorous set of more than 60 standards, with the requirement to provide continuous reports on performance in more than 40 areas.

NCQA’s programs and services reflect a straightforward formula for improvement for their member organizations: Measure. Analyze. Improve. Repeat. We see this same rigor represented in the way they execute their strategy in OnStrategy as well. During the month of January, their strategic plan progress was #1 of all users, as measured by goals accomplished. They also have the largest volume of goals in the MSP system as well.

In the following Q&A, NCQA’s Vice President of Communications Sarah Thomas was kind enough to give us her insight on how NCQA is keeping their strategic plan alive and what strategic accomplishment they are most proud of:

Q. What do you think are the top reason(s) that your strategy efforts are succeeding?

The strategic plan has great support from our top leadership, including our Board of Directors, the President, Peggy O’Kane, and all the members of the Leadership Team. The plan is integrated into our business plan and budget and into individual performance plans.

Q. What are your biggest challenges in staying on track and how are you overcoming them?

Several big challenges include adapting to changes in the environment and being over committed to too many projects (this includes our “lights on” activities that we have in OnStrategy). We overcome them by redeploying resources as needed and trying to be flexible as things change – so that we might not put as much work into one project and lots more into another. We also are working on LEAN process improvement to free up resources so we can be more nimble.

Q. How do you manage the need for change in your strategic plan?

We revisit the environment and our competition at least every year, and reset priorities in response. We are working to drop more projects with less of a payoff.

Q. What is the strategic accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Building up our consulting business with the great leadership of Phyllis Torda. This has allowed us to take advantage of the opportunities afforded us by the Affordable Care Act and to diversify our revenues while gaining broader knowledge.

We are pleased and honored that NCQA has been using OnStrategy for several years now. They provide an invaluable service to the industry and us all as consumers of health care. With their transparency in benchmarking and continuous measurement, we all can understand where improvements are taking place and where focus is needed. To see their great work first hand, now features a report card ranking of health care plans on their home page.


How do you ensure your strategy adapts to the external environment?

Cammy Elquist LoRé

- Cammy Elquist LoRé is the Director of Project Communication for OnStrategy. She can be reached @cammyelquist on Twitter or