What is Blue Distinction®?
What are Blue Distinction Centers®?
What specialties does Blue Distinction recognize?
Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care® are recognized for their distinguished clinical care and processes in the areas of:
How is Blue Distinction valuable to me?
When you’re consulting with your patients about their specialty care needs, Blue Distinction can provide a valuable informational resource. Blue Distinction Centers have demonstrated expertise in delivering quality health care in the areas of bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacement, spine surgery or transplants.
The designation is based on objective, evidence-based selection criteria established with input from expert physicians and medical organizations. The Blue Distinction designation can aid you in helping your patients find quality specialty care to meet their needs.
Blue Distinction provides you with a local, regional and national outlook on the medical facilities that have met established selection criteria, which can lead to better overall quality of specialty care and patient results. Each Blue Distinction Center received its designation because it showed expertise in delivering quality specialty care through established care delivery and quality processes.
What does Blue Distinction mean to my patients?
When your patients are looking for specialty care, they can turn to your professional guidance as well as Blue Distinction as a supplemental source of additional information to help them in their research.
The goal of Blue Distinction is to help you and your patients find healthcare facilities that have demonstrated better overall outcomes in delivering specialty care, such as fewer medical complications, fewer readmissions and higher survival rates. A better understanding of the quality and outcomes demonstrated by these facilities will help you and your patients have more informed conversations about why a Blue Distinction Center may be a good decision for their particular specialty care needs.
How did you select these areas of specialty care?
The six specialty areas of Blue Distinction account for more than 30 percent of total inpatient hospital expenditures.1
In developing Blue Distinction, we chose to focus on specialty areas that, together, are relatively high risk, high volume and/or high cost. The idea is to concentrate on those areas where we could realize the greatest impact—and make a difference in patient safety and outcomes.
How many Blue Distinction Centers are there?
There are approximately 1,900 Blue Distinction Center designations nationwide, across 47 states and the District of Columbia:
What criteria do medical facilities have to meet to become Blue Distinction Centers®?
To become a Blue Distinction Center, each medical facility must meet rigorous, evidence-based selection criteria. The Blue Distinction evaluation includes a broad range of quality criteria, from treatment through recovery. By using a number of factors that can contribute to quality care, you and your patients can get a clearer picture of how Blue Distinction Centers are structured to deliver better care—from expert teams of caregivers, to access to the appropriate hospital resources, to a commitment to quality improvement—within a given specialty procedure.
The selection criteria used are publicly available to you and your patients on www.bcbs.com/bluedistinction.
The following table provides a sampling of some of the criteria used to evaluate facilities for Blue Distinction:
Selection Criteria Category
Safety & Quality Outcomes
Accreditation, Certification, and Expertise
Patient-Centered and Coordinated Care
Comprehensive, Evidence-based Care
Rapid Learning System
To maintain its Blue Distinction Center designation, each facility must reapply periodically for re-designation. This not only encourages continuing quality at the facility level, but it also provides an opportunity for The Blues® to work with expert physicians and medical organizations to determine if any of the Blue Distinction quality thresholds should be raised to reflect current clinical practice. This process fosters ongoing opportunities for improving the overall quality of care.
How do patient outcomes differ between Blue Distinction Centers and non-Blue Distinction Centers?
Overall, Blue Distinction Centers have demonstrated better outcomes for patients. Here are just a few research findings that show why choosing a Blue Distinction Center can be a smart decision for you and your patients:
How do I find a Blue Distinction Center?
How do I learn more?
1. Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), 2005
2. BCBSA Analysis of 2005-06 Hospital RFI Data
3. HealthCore Inc. Evaluation of Bariatric Surgery BDCs, 2009: WellPoint Data
Note: Designation as Blue Distinction Centers means these facilities' overall experience and aggregate data met objective criteria established in collaboration with expert clinicians' and leading professional organizations' recommendations. Individual outcomes may vary. To find out which services are covered under your policy at any facilities, please call your local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield Plan; and call your provider before making an appointment, to verify the most current information on its Network participation and Blue Distinction status. Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any of its Licensees are responsible for any damages, losses, or non-covered charges that may result from using this resource or receiving care from a Blue Distinction provider.
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