Iowa Methodist Receives Blue Distinction® for Bariatric Surgery

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Iowa Methodist Medical Center Receives Blue Distinction® Designation for Quality, Cost-effective Bariatric Surgery

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Wellmark® Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® has recognized Iowa Methodist Medical Center as one of the first health care facilities in the nation, and one of only three hospitals in Iowa, to receive a Blue Distinction® Center+ designation in the area of bariatric surgery by the Blue Distinction® Centers for Specialty Care program. Blue Distinction® Centers are nationally designated health care facilities shown to deliver quality specialty care based on objective measures, which were developed with input from the medical community, for patient safety and better health outcomes. 

To receive a Blue Distinction Center+ for Bariatric Surgery designation, a health care facility must demonstrate success in meeting patient safety, as well as bariatric-specific quality measures, including complications and readmissions, for gastric stapling and/or gastric banding procedures. A health care facility must also have earned national accreditations at both the facility level and the specific bariatric care level, as well as demonstrate better cost efficiency relative to its peers. 

“We’re extremely proud to receive this important recognition for our excellent weight loss surgery program,” said Dr. Steve Stephenson, Chief Operating Officer at Iowa Methodist Medical Center. “Over the past ten years, our surgeons and staff have helped Iowans take control of their weight and improve their lives. This distinction recognizes our high quality, compassionate care we provide.”  

Quality is key: Only those facilities that first meet Blue Distinction’s nationally established, objective quality measures will be considered for designation as a Blue Distinction Center+. Iowa Methodist Medical Center is proud to be recognized by Wellmark for meeting the rigorous selection criteria for bariatric surgery set by the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program.

“This designation emphasizes our philosophy for the overall care of the bariatric patient,” said Dr. Teresa LaMasters, Medical Director for UnityPoint Clinic – Weight Loss. “Surgery is only the first step toward healthy living. Our team is committed to providing the dietary, exercise and psychiatric care that is also necessary for recovery. Obesity affects all areas of our patients’ lives, and by providing effective treatment, we can relieve many associated diseases and allow them to return to a normal life.”  

Iowa Methodist Medical Center and the physicians and staff of UnityPoint Clinic – Weight Loss provide a full range of bariatric surgery care services, including pre-surgery consultation, inpatient care, post-operative care, outpatient follow-up, support groups and patient education. 

“Bariatric surgeries are among the most common elective surgeries in the U.S., which provides a significant opportunity to improve quality and efficiency within the healthcare system,” said Timothy Gutshall, M.D., Wellmark vice president and chief medical officer. “Wellmark congratulates Iowa Methodist Medical Center for its commitment to quality and helping patients better manage their care through the Blue Distinction specialty care program.”  

There were 179,000 bariatric surgeries performed in 2013, according to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, and the average cost is more than $28,000 per episode, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Furthermore, it is estimated that 72 million Americans are obese and 24 million suffer from morbid obesity, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The estimated annual health care costs of obesity-related illnesses are $190.2 billion, or nearly 21 percent of annual medical spending in the U.S., according to the Journal of Health Economics.

Research shows that facilities designated as Blue Distinction Centers+ demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients compared with their peers. On average, Blue Distinction Centers+ are also 20 percent or more cost efficient than non-BDC+ designated health care facilities.  

Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Centers for 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, spine surgery, and transplants while encouraging health care professionals to improve the care they deliver. Learn more about the program and see a complete listing of the designated facilities.