; BCBSA Announces Support For Center For Transforming Healthcare
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Press Release

BCBSA Announces Support For Center For Transforming Healthcare

June 10, 2011

WASHINGTON – The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) today announced a $1 million commitment to the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare as part of the Blue System’s long-standing pledge to support efforts that improve the safety and quality of patient care.

An estimated 250,000 Americans lose their lives each year due to medical errors, and many more are harmed by infections and medication-induced complications.  But it is no longer good enough to point out that the healthcare Americans receive is not as safe as they expect and deserve.  Problems with patient safety have been well documented in numerous reports since the Institute of Medicine’s landmark 1999 report, To Err Is Human:  Building a Safer Health System.

“Eliminating these avoidable deaths and injuries continues to be a national priority for Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies,” said Scott P. Serota, BCBSA president and CEO.  “Our collaboration with the Center for Transforming Healthcare is part of our commitment to finding the best available tools and helping hospitals and doctors to use them to improve the safety and quality of care patients receive.”

Through a five-year collaboration, BCBSA will become a major sponsor of the Center for Transforming Healthcare and serve as a member of the Center’s Leadership Advisory Council to help guide the Center in developing solutions to improve the safety and quality of care provided by healthcare organizations across the country.  The Center has tackled failures that contribute to healthcare-acquired infections that kill nearly 100,000 Americans each year.  The other initiatives are on hand-off communications, wrong site surgery and reducing surgical site infections following colorectal surgery.  Future projects are expected to focus on preventing avoidable heart failure hospitalizations, medication errors and other aspects of infection control.

“We are delighted to accept the sponsorship of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.  This contribution will help to further the important mission of the Center for Transforming Healthcare – creating high reliability solutions for healthcare,” says Mark R. Chassin, M.D., FACP, M.P.P., MPH.  “We know demanding that healthcare workers try harder isn’t the answer to solving the quality and safety problems plaguing healthcare.  That is why the work of the Center is so vital.  We are addressing the breakdowns in healthcare by identifying exactly why they occur and creating targeted solutions that will work now and keep working in the future.”

BCBSA’s collaboration with the Center is part of the Blue Systems’ long history of working with leading experts and organizations to improve the healthcare system.

Working closely with leading healthcare experts, BCBS companies designed collaborations with community partners that have helped to save thousands of lives and shorten hospital stays and substantially reduced rates of healthcare-acquired infections by as much as 30 percent among all patients regardless of whether or not they are Blue members.

BCBSA also recently supported the Obama administration’s Partnership for Patients, a public-private partnership to improve the quality, safety and affordability of healthcare.

"We want our nearly 98 million members to receive healthcare services that are safe, competent and compassionate,” said Dr. Allan Korn, senior vice president and chief medical officer at BCBSA.  “We start with the word safe – because above all the system should not cause harm to patients.”

Nationally, Blue Distinction® is a designation program developed by BCBSA in consultation with leading medical specialty societies to recognize medical facilities that have demonstrated expertise in delivering quality healthcare above and beyond its peers.  The designation is based on rigorous, evidence-based, objective selection criteria established in collaboration with medical experts’ recommendations.  Its goal is to help consumers and their physicians find quality specialty care on a consistent basis, while encouraging healthcare professionals to improve the overall quality and delivery of care nationwide.

  • Blue Distinction Centers for Bariatric Surgery® have a 26 percent lower complication rate for bariatric surgery, a 22 percent lower readmission rate for laparoscopic gastric bypasses, and deliver laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding at an average cost of 11 percent less than other facilities.
  • Blue Distinction Centers for Cardiac Care® have lowered rates of hospital readmissions by 32 percent for outpatient angioplasties and 21 percent for cardiac bypass surgeries, at cost savings that average 11.8 percent and 4.8 percent less, respectively, compared to other facilities.

BCBSA also worked with leading independent clinical experts to develop incentives for hospitals to use the Blue Surgical Safety ChecklistSM (Checklist), a tool that provides hospitals and physicians with proven standards of care that improve surgical results and decrease risk to patients.  The Checklist, adopted from the World Health Organization Surgical Safety Checklist, consists of 19 essential safety steps to improve communication and consistency of care within surgical teams to reduce avoidable complications.

To learn more about how Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are improving healthcare in their local communities, visit BCBS.com.


The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally-operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for more than 105 million members – one-in-three Americans.  For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit bcbs.com. We encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out The BCBS Blog, for up-to-date information about BCBSA.