When you or your family need specialty care, you want the best available. Blue Distinction® Specialty Care helps you find high-quality hospitals with the expertise for your specific needs.

Two Recognitions for Healthcare Facilities

Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ have a proven history of delivering exceptional care and results. With two levels of recognition, you and your doctor can choose the hospital that best meets your needs. To learn more, contact your local Blue Cross Blue Shield company.

Blue Distinction Centers

These hospitals have demonstrated quality care, treatment expertise and, overall, better patient results.

Blue Distinction Centers+

Blue Distinction Center+ hospitals offer more affordable care in addition to having demonstrated quality care, treatment expertise, and, overall, better patient results.

Find a Blue Distinction Center

With a click or a call, you can find a Blue Distinction Center for your specialty care needs. Visit the Blue Distinction Center Finder, or call the toll-free number on the back of your membership card.

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Seven Areas of Specialty Care

Blue Distinction Specialty Care recognizes hospitals and outpatient surgery centers that excel in delivering safe, successful care in these care categories:

To find out if a hospital or outpatient surgery center is in your plan's network, please contact your local Blue Cross Blue Shield company and ask your doctor before making an appointment.

Bariatric (Weight-Loss) Surgery

Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ for Bariatric Surgery designations are awarded for two types of bariatric procedures: gastric stapling (hospitals only) and gastric banding (hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers). To qualify for designation, the facility must provide a full range of bariatric surgery care, including inpatient care, post-operative care, outpatient follow-up care and patient education.

Find a Blue Distinction Center/Center+ for Bariatric Surgery

Directory of Blue Distinction® Centers/Centers+ for Bariatric Surgery (PDF)

Program Selection Criteria for Bariatric Surgery (PDF)

Cardiac Care

Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ for Cardiac Care provide a full range of inpatient cardiac care services, including coronary artery bypass graft surgery, heart valve surgery, and angioplasty (percutaneous coronary intervention). These facilities demonstrate better quality care and improved outcomes for patients, including lower rates of complications following certain cardiac procedures.

Find a Blue Distinction Center/Center+ for Cardiac Care

Directory of Blue Distinction Centers/Centers+ for Cardiac Care (PDF)

Program Selection Criteria for Cardiac Care (PDF)

Complex And Rare Cancers

Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers are evaluated on patient assessment, treatment planning, complex inpatient care and major surgical treatments for adults; their care teams have expertise and subspecialty training for complex and rare cancers. The program focuses on the following:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Bone cancer – primary
  • Brain cancer – primary
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Gastric cancer
  • Head and neck cancers
  • Liver cancer – primary
  • Acute leukemia (inpatient, non-surgical)
  • Ocular melanoma
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Soft tissue sarcoma
  • Thyroid cancer – medullary or anaplastic

Find a Blue Distinction Center/Center+ for Complex and Rare Cancers

Directory of Blue Distinction Centers/Centers+ for Complex and Rare Cancers (PDF)*

Program Selection Criteria for Complex and Rare Cancers (PDF)**

Blue Cross Blue Shield companies recognizes that the majority of patients' multidisciplinary treatment may be best accomplished by integrating the expertise available in a Blue Distinction Center with locally available treatment resources, especially for outpatient chemotherapy and radiotherapy, based on individual circumstances and patient preference. Optimal support of a patient's comprehensive cancer care needs may be achieved by coordinating between the patient and their family, local physicians, the Blue Distinction Center and their local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield company.


*Facilities may offer treatment for cancer types in addition to those for which they have been designated.

**The Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers Program was developed in strategic collaboration with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), which provided information and input, but does not formally endorse the program. View a complete listing of NCCN member institutions.

Knee and Hip Replacement

Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ for Knee and Hip Replacement facilities have demonstrated expertise in total knee and total hip replacement surgeries. Research confirms that Blue Distinction designated facilities in these areas have fewer complications and fewer hospital readmissions than non-designated facilities.

Find a Blue Distinction Center/Center+ for Knee and Hip Replacement

Directory of Blue Distinction Centers/Centers+ for Knee and Hip Replacement (PDF)

Program Selection Criteria for Knee and Hip Replacement (PDF)

Maternity Care

Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ for Maternity Care are healthcare facilities with demonstrated expertise and a commitment to quality care during vaginal and cesarean section deliveries. These facilities are evaluated on several quality measures, from percentage of deliveries that fall into the category of early elective delivery, to overall patient satisfaction.

Find a Blue Distinction Center/Center+ for Maternity Care

Directory of Blue Distinction Centers/Centers+ for Maternity Care (PDF)

Program Selection Criteria for Maternity Care (PDF)

Spine Surgery

Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ for Spine Surgery provide comprehensive inpatient spine surgery services, including discectomy, fusion and decompression procedures. Research shows that there are lower readmission rates and fewer reoperations at designated healthcare facilities in this area than at non-designated facilities.

Find a Blue Distinction Center/Center+ for Spine Surgery

Directory of Blue Distinction Centers/Centers+ for Spine Surgery (PDF)

Program Selection Criteria for Spine Surgery (PDF)

Transplants

Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ for Transplants provide a range of services for Heart, Lung, Liver, Pancreas and Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplants.

Each facility meets stringent clinical criteria, established in collaboration with expert physicians' and medical organizations' recommendations*, including the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR), the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) and the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT). In addition to providing quality care and better overall outcomes, Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ for Transplants help simplify the administrative process involved in this complex care so that patients, their families and physicians can focus on what matters most.

Transplant Resources

Find a Blue Distinction Center/Center+ for Transplants

Directory of Blue Distinction Centers/Centers+ for Transplants (PDF)

Program Selection Criteria for Transplants (PDF)


*These organizations have provided information and input, but do not formally endorse the Blue Distinction Centers for Transplants program.

For Physicians and Hospitals

If you are a physician or hospital administrator and would like your healthcare facility to be considered for the Blue Distinction Centers/Centers+​ designations, contact your local Blue Cross Blue Shield company to learn more.

2018 Designation Materials

The following materials (PDF) are for current specialties that are being evaluated for 2018 designations.

Blue Distinction Centers (BDC) met overall quality measures for patient safety and outcomes, developed with input from the medical community. A Local Blue Plan may require additional criteria for facilities located in its own service area; for details, contact your Local Blue Plan. Blue Distinction Centers+ (BDC+) also met cost measures that address consumers’ need for affordable healthcare. Each facility’s cost of care is evaluated using data from its Local Blue Plan. Facilities in CA, ID, NY, PA, and WA may lie in two Local Blue Plans’ areas, resulting in two evaluations for cost of care; and their own Local Blue Plans decide whether one or both cost of care evaluation(s) must meet BDC+ national criteria. National criteria for BDC and BDC+ are displayed on www.bcbs.com. Individual outcomes may vary. For details on a provider’s in-network status or your own policy’s coverage, contact your Local Blue Plan and ask your provider before making an appointment. Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any Blue Plans are responsible for non-covered charges or other losses or damages resulting from Blue Distinction or other provider finder information or care received from Blue Distinction or other providers.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 36 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.