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NCQA’s Data Aggregator Validation Program – What it Takes to Earn Certified Data Stream Status

Having been involved in delivering and supporting supplemental data feeds since I joined Azara seven years ago, upon hearing of NCQA’S Data Aggregator Validation program, I immediately understood the value to both to payers and practices.  Even the smoothest audit is, at best, an extremely time-consuming process.  At their worst, they are contentious, highly negative experiences for all parties involved.  There is a lot of talk about how to make healthcare in America more efficient, and while fancy risk algorithms and machine learning models are fun to talk about and provide value, it is projects like these that can make great leaps in efficiency. 

All of that being said, the NCQA Data Aggregator Validation certification process is no simple feat.  Thousands of hours of effort from Azara resources went in to completing the program.  The project consisted of three main phases. First, verifying that Azara was able to produce data in the proper NCQA Data Aggregator Validation format, a very specific version of the CCD-A.

Second, auditors performed an in-depth examination of Azara’s processes and infrastructure, ensuring that we were responsible stewards of EHR data.  To borrow from the crime shows, “looking at the chain of custody” from the source system all the way through delivery of that data to the payer.  Hundreds of pages of documentation were generated and reviewed throughout the course of that process, and auditors also completed a day-long interview questioning individual Azara resources on their pieces of the puzzle.

Third, Azara underwent a PSV (Primary Source Verification) audit of our data, ensuring that the end data we produced did indeed match the data as it appears in the source.  This piece involved Azara collecting dozens of pages of documentation from 36 different practices nationwide, in a very compressed time period.  This was truly a gargantuan undertaking including physically collecting paper documentation onsite, working around natural disasters and a myriad of other issues.  The team at Azara who undertook this process was amazing, and the fact that we were able to collect and submit the documentation we did is astounding.  We also fully appreciate the efforts of those 36 clients who provided our team the appropriate access and assistance to help us get this audit completed in the very tight timeframe.

In the end, Azara successfully completed the NCQA Data Aggregator Validation program, earning Certified Data Stream Status and is now a validated data stream.  This will allow our customers, both payers and providers, to enhance their HEDIS® rates with supplemental data while avoiding the burden of audit—a big win for everyone involved.

While it was a grueling process, understanding the savings of time, energy, and frustration to our clients and the healthcare system makes all the effort worth it.


HEDIS® is a registered trademark of the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).