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Physician Office Link

The Physician Office Link (POL) program is focused on promoting the office practice’s use of information systems to enhance the quality of patient care. Office practice sites that implement specific processes to reduce errors and increase quality can earn up to $50 for each patient covered by a participating health plan and/or employer.

BTE’s research shows that practices that successfully reengineer are supported by good systems and use those systems to deliver better results. POL recognition also leads to Medical Home designation.

To obtain the rewards available for POL recognition, eligible physicians must demonstrate that they implemented systematic office processes. There are three different paths available to physicians for POL recognition:

  1. NCQA
    : Practices that qualify for NCQA’s Physician Practice Connections (PPC) assessment program will be recognized by BTE for the Physician Office Link (POL) program at the corresponding level (i.e. PPC Level I= POL Level I). BTE’s POL recognition will be awarded to practices who achieve PPC recognition irrespective of the version of PPC they go through (i.e. PPC v2.0 or PPPC-PCMH).   
  2.  CCHIT: The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology is an independent standard setting organization that certifies electronic health records (EHRs) that meet certain criteria. Having a CCHIT-certified EHR automatically grants PPC applicants a significant amount of points. As a result BTE will deem POL Level 2 recognition to practices/physicians that have a CCHIT-certified EHR and achieve a Level I (or higher) in any of the other BTE Care Links through the automated performance assessment system. 

  3. QIO OSS
    : The CMS designated Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs) have developed a standard Office System Survey (OSS) for use in assessing systems in practices for various Medicare projects. BTE worked with the QIO community in 2006 to amend the OSS so that practices assessed by QIOs with the amended OSS qualify for POL at the corresponding level (i.e. OSS Level I= POL Level I). Please refer to your local region page to find out if your state's Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) is assessing practices.

For more information on QIO participation in BTE, refer to the QIO Toolkit.

What measures will be used to determine tiers of Recognition?

Given the evidence in the literature advocating the creation of physician quality reward programs that promote continuous quality improvement amongst its participants, the BTE Physician Office Link program is designed to include 3 levels or tiers of recognition.

  • Level I: Elements assess the use of evidence-based standards of care, maintenance of patient registries for the purpose of identifying and following up with at-risk patients and provision of educational resources to patients.
  • Level II: Elements ask whether practices use electronic systems to maintain patient records, provide decision support, enter orders for prescriptions and lab tests and provide patient reminders.
  • Level III: Elements ask whether a practice’s electronic systems interconnect and whether they are “interoperable” with other systems, whether they use nationally accepted medical code sets and whether they can automatically send, receive and integrate data such as lab results and medical histories from other organizations’ systems.

Note: In 2006 NCQA released version 2 of its PPC assessment program. Physicians in practices that have previously completed and have active recognition under NCQA's PPC version 1 may still be eligible for POL rewards. Practices that have completed 6 or more modules are now recognized by BTE at Level I, while practices that have completed 9 or more modules are recognized by BTE at Level II. Please note that to achieve Level III POL recognition, practices must complete PPC version 2 or PPC-PCMH.  

What is the duration of Recognition?

For Physician Office Link (POL) recognitions achieved on or before December 31, 2009, recognition status remains in effect for 3 years from the date on which a PAO awards recognition.  Beginning January 1, 2010, the POL recognition duration will be shortened to 2 years from the date on which a PAO awards recogntion.

*Please note that some of this information such as reward amounts could be specific to a region. For market specifics, go to your local BTE region page. 


© 2003-2009 Bridges to Excellence, Inc. All rights reserved.
Bridges to Excellence does not endorse any particular product or service or any physician or physician group. Bridges to Excellence relies on third-party performance assessment organizations such as the NCQA and Quality Improvement Organizations to measure a physician or physician's group performance and ability to demonstrate that they meet certain measures of quality care.