; Blue Cross And Blue Shield Companies Give Their Distinctive Mark To Quality, Efficient Hospitals
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Press Release

Blue Cross And Blue Shield Companies Give Their Distinctive Mark To Quality, Efficient Hospitals

Blue Distinction® designation aids consumers and employers in choosing high-performing hospitals and physician practices

February 21, 2013

CHICAGO – The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) today announced the expansion of Blue Distinction, its national quality designation for specialty care, to include specific designations for quality and quality plus cost-efficient specialty care, and another designation for high-performing Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMHs) and Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).

Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care® now includes new cost-efficiency measures, as well as more robust quality measures focused on improved patient health and safety.  Since 2006, consumers, medical providers and employers have relied on this program to identify hospitals delivering quality care in Bariatric Surgery, Cardiac Care, Complex and Rare Cancers, Knee and Hip Replacements, Spine Surgery, and Transplants.

Today the first of these new designations have been awarded, in the areas of Spine Surgery and Knee and Hip Replacement. More than 185 facilities are being recognized as Blue Distinction Centers for their expertise in delivering specialty care. In addition, more than 460 are being recognized as Blue Distinction Centers+ for their expertise and cost efficiency in delivering specialty care. Quality is key: only those facilities that first meet Blue Distinction’s nationally established, objective quality measures will be considered for designation as Blue Distinction Centers+.  The national program will continue to expand into additional specialty care areas which, when complete, will represent more than 30 percent of inpatient hospital expenditures. For a complete listing of newly designated facilities, please visit www.bcbs.com/bluedistinction.

Research confirms that these newly designated Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients, with lower rates of complications and readmissions than their peers.  Blue Distinction Centers+ also are more than 20 percent more cost-efficient.  The program provides consumers with tools to help them make better informed healthcare decisions.  These results will also enable employers, working with their local Blue Plans, to tailor benefits to meet their individual quality and cost objectives.

Building on the success of the other Blue Distinction designations, The Blues® are continuing to expand the program to include a primary care focused designation – Blue Distinction Total CareSM – which will designate PCMHs and ACOs that meet nationally consistent criteria for quality, efficiency, and patient experience.

“The healthcare market is changing rapidly and the cost of care is continuing to rise. It is now more important than ever to equip providers, consumers, and employers with helpful information to assist them in making important healthcare decisions,” said Scott P. Serota, president and CEO, BCBSA.  “Quality remains the benchmark for our national network that serves millions of customers.  The Blue Distinction program will improve the overall patient experience and provide better value to our customers by offering the necessary tools to identify high-quality, cost-effective care.”

The Blues are proud to recognize and distinguish providers that have demonstrated a dedication and commitment to delivering quality care and doing so efficiently, along with helping consumers and employers select quality, cost-efficient facilities that are well suited for their treatment needs.  For more information about the Blue Distinction program, please visit www.bcbs.com/bluedistinction.

Blue Distinction® Centers met overall quality measures for patient safety and outcomes, developed with input from the medical community. Blue Distinction® Centers+ also met cost measures that address consumers’ need for affordable healthcare. Individual outcomes may vary. National criteria is displayed on www.bcbs.com.  A Local Blue Plan may require additional criteria for facilities located in its own service area.  To find out which services and providers (including hospital based physicians) are covered under your policy, or to learn about Local Blue Plan Criteria, contact your Local Blue Plan; and contact your provider before making an appointment to verify its current Network and Blue Distinction Centers status. Each hospital’s Cost Index is calculated separately, based on data from its Local Blue Plan. Hospitals in portions of CA, ID, NY, PA, and WA may lie in areas served by two Local Blue Plans, resulting in two Cost Index figures; and their own Local Blue Plans decide whether all hospitals in these areas must meet Blue Distinction Centers+ national criteria for one or both Cost Index figures. Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any Blue Plans are responsible for damages, losses, or non-covered charges resulting from Blue Distinction or other provider finder information or care received from Blue Distinction or other providers.  To find out more, contact your Local Blue Plan.

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.