New patient quality measurements aim to improve care for mom and baby

Published December 13, 2022

Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are committed to improving maternal health care by strengthening measurements and performance standards at hundreds of Blue Distinction Centers (BDC) for Maternity Care programs in 2023.

This nationwide effort aligns with The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s (BCBSA) on-going goals of providing high-quality, affordable maternal care while addressing gaps and inequities that negatively impacted the health of mothers and babies. Improvements in 2023 include evaluation of facilities ability to achieve the new “birthing friendly” designation from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), as well as evaluation of facilities ability to assess and train staff on how to identify signs of trauma in birthing people, in order to support maternal mental health.

What is the Blue Distinction Maternity Care program?

The Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care is a national center of excellence program that encompasses 1,030 facilities, accounting for almost 25% of all birthing hospitals nationwide. Blue Distinction designated Maternity Care centers must meet rigorous quality evaluations that measure structure, process and patient outcomes. BDC Maternity facilities are evaluated on outcomes and procedures for all patients, regardless of insurance coverage which raises quality care for all women.

Blue Distinction Centers addressing the inequities in childbirth complications

What’s new in 2023?

In 2023, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association will include additional measures that evaluate each facility based on quality and its commitment to health equity. As part of this comprehensive review BCBSA will include an evaluation of the new “birthing friendly” designation, recently released from CMS. The “birthing friendly” designation emphasizes best practices in maternity care and will be awarded by CMS to facilitates that demonstrate a consistent adherence to the new Maternal Morbidity Structural Measures. In addition, BDC Maternity Care centers will also include trauma informed support for mental health, as well as several evaluation components that support BCBSA’s Top 10 Actions for Maternal Health Equity:

New Evaluation components for Blue Distinction Maternity Care Centers:

  • Asks if the facility provide access to cultural humility and unconscious bias training for everyone in the maternal care continuum
  • Evaluates how the facility collects and uses race and ethnicity data, including what is collected, how the facility trains people to collect data, and how it is used to reduce health care disparities
  • Evaluates the availability of nurse midwives, doulas, and birthing centers in provider networks
  • Assesses the facilities education and awareness of post-birth complications and warning signs for members
  • Checks if doulas are available to members at the facility
  • Aligns quality measurement with national standards-setting organizations
  • Asks if the facility participates in a Perinatal Quality Collaborative

Blue Distinction: A commitment to quality and care for mothers and babies

Impact of Blue Distinction Maternity Care Centers

In 2020, BDC Maternity Centers demonstrated a lower percentage of early elective deliveries (including 75% fewer early elective deliveries and a 24% lower cesarean section delivery rate), when compared to non-designated providers. More information on Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care can be found here. In addition to BDC Maternal Care, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Companies continue to support initiatives that address health disparities. Here are just a few:

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is an association of independently owned and operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.