St. Luke's Earns Blue Distinction® Center+ Designation

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St. Luke's Earns Blue Distinction® Center+ Designation for Quality and Cost-Efficiency in Spine Surgery

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Wellmark Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® Blue Distinction® Center+ for Spine Surgery logo
Wellmark Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® has selected UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital as a Blue Distinction® Center+ for Spine Surgery, as part of the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program. Blue Distinction Centers are nationally designated health care facilities shown to deliver improved patient safety and better health outcomes, based on objective measures that were developed by Blue Cross Blue Shield companies with input from the medical community. 

Spinal surgeries are among the most common and expensive elective surgeries in the U.S., according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), which creates a significant opportunity to improve quality and value within the health care system. For example, there were more than 465,000 spinal fusion operations in the U.S. in 2011, and hospital costs for a fusion procedure average $27,5681 according to AHRQ. 

Hospitals designated as Blue Distinction Centers+ for Spine Surgery demonstrate expertise in cervical and lumbar fusion, cervical laminectomy and lumbar laminectomy/discectomy procedures, resulting in fewer patient complications and hospital readmissions compared to other hospitals. Designated hospitals must also maintain national accreditation. In addition to meeting these quality thresholds, facilities designated as Blue Distinction Centers+ are on average 20 percent more cost-efficient in an episode of care compared to other hospitals.

Quality is key: Only those facilities that first meet nationally established, objective quality measures will be considered for designation as a Blue Distinction Center+. 

 St. Luke’s is proud to be recognized by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield for meeting the rigorous selection criteria for spine surgery set by the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.

“We are proud of our team’s commitment to providing the highest level of care for spine surgery,” said Ted Townsend, St. Luke’s Hospital president and CEO. “This designation is truly an honor and demonstrates to the community we are able to provide exceptional value without sacrificing quality.”

Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality providers for their specialty care needs in the areas of bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacements, maternity care, spine surgery, and transplants, while encouraging health care professionals to improve the care they deliver.

For more information about the program and for a complete listing of the designated facilities, please visit bcbs.com/bluedistinction.

1Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)