In an effort to help prospective parents find hospitals that deliver quality, affordable maternity care, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas announced the first hospitals in its 103-county service area to receive the Blue Distinction Center or Blue Distinction Center+ for Maternity Care designations under the national Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.
Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ for Maternity Care, an expansion of the national Blue Distinction® Specialty Care program, are hospitals recognized for delivering quality specialty care safely and effectively, based on objective measures developed with input from the medical community. To receive a Blue Distinction Centers+ for Maternity Care designation, a hospital must meet the same quality criteria as Blue Distinction Centers while also meeting requirements for cost efficiency.
Hospitals were assessed using a combination of publicly available quality information and cost measures derived from Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies’ medical claims. Great Bend Regional Hospital was at the top of the list of hospitals being recognized as a Blue Distinction Center+ for Maternity Care, along with fifteen other facilities around the state of Kansas.
“Improving quality of care is integral to transforming the health care system, so we are proud to recognize these 16 hospitals for demonstrating higher levels of quality and expertise resulting in better maternity care for our members,” said Andrew C. Corbin, BCBSKS president/CEO. “This designation requires a tremendous commitment to quality in all phases of a hospital’s maternity care program. The fact that 15 hospitals were further recognized for attaining cost efficiency in delivering quality care is commendable.”
Nearly four million babies are born in the U.S. annually, making childbirth the most common cause of hospitalization. This new maternity care program evaluates hospitals on several quality measures, including the percentage of newborns that fall into the category of early elective delivery, an ongoing concern in the medical community. Compared with babies born 39 weeks or later, early term infants face higher risks of infant death and respiratory ailments such as respiratory distress syndrome, pneumonia, and respiratory failure, among other conditions. These babies also have a higher rate of admission to neonatal intensive care units.
In addition, hospitals that receive a Blue Distinction Center for Maternity Care designation agreed to meet requirements that align with principles that support evidence-based practices of care, as well as having initiated programs to promote successful breastfeeding, as described in the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative by Baby-Friendly USA or the Mother-Friendly Hospital program by the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) through its “Ten Steps of Mother-Friendly Care.” The program also evaluates hospitals on overall patient satisfaction, including a willingness to recommend the hospital to others.
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, spine surgery, and transplants. Research shows that compared to other facilities, those designated as Blue Distinction Centers demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients. On average, Blue Distinction Centers+ are also 20 percent more cost-efficient than non-Blue Distinction Center+ designated health care facilities.
For more information about the program visit bcbs.com/bluedistinction.