Hospital among first to receive new designation for delivering quality and cost-efficient cardiac procedures DES MOINES, Iowa (Jan. 16, 2014) – Wellmark® Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® has named Mercy Medical Center – North Iowa as one of the first hospitals in the nation to receive a Blue Distinction Center Plus (+) designation in the area of cardiac care, as part of the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care® program. Blue Distinction Centers are hospitals shown to deliver quality specialty care based on objective, transparent measures for patient safety and health outcomes that were developed with the input from the medical community. This year, the national program has added a new designation level, Blue Distinction Center Plus (+), to recognize hospitals that deliver both quality and cost-efficient specialty care.
In 2006, the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program was developed to help patients find quality providers for their specialty care needs while encouraging health care professionals to improve the care they deliver. To receive a Blue Distinction Center+ for Cardiac CareSM designation, a hospital must demonstrate success in meeting both general quality and safety criteria (such as preventing hospital-acquired infections) and cardiac-specific quality measures (related to lower rates of complications and death following cardiac surgery; and non-surgical procedures, such as cardiac stent placement) and, additionally, must show better cost efficiency relative to its peers. 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+.
“We are very proud of the quality of care we provide,” said Samuel Congello, D.O., Medical Director of Interventional Cardiology for the health center. “This is just one of many cardiovascular firsts we’ve had at Mercy Medical Center – North Iowa. Our cardiovascular team, including physicians, nurses and technicians, has many years of experience. It is an honor to be recognized for the quality care we provide - big city medicine with a hometown touch.”
“Over the years, we have greatly expanded the cardiovascular services we provide to Northern Iowa and Southern Minnesota,” said Daniel J. Waters, D.O., CardioThoracic Surgeon at Mercy- North Iowa. “Our desire to learn and grow has resulted in very high quality, sophisticated cardiovascular care that is delivered in an efficient manner. Everyone in our communities should take pride in having this level of care available so close to home.”
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming nearly 600,000 lives each year. Cardiac procedures, including bypass and cardiac stent placement, are among the most common major medical procedures provided by the U.S. health care system, with more than 1 million procedures performed annually. These cardiac related procedures cost the nation more than $28 billion annually. The Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program seeks to reduce this burden by empowering patients with the knowledge and tools to find both quality and value for their cardiac care needs.
“Blue Distinction Centers set themselves apart by adhering to best practices in patient safety and surgical care and producing consistently strong outcomes with fewer complications,” said Timothy Gutshall, M.D., Wellmark vice president and chief medical officer. “Wellmark is proud to recognize the high-quality and cost-effective care these hospitals and physicians deliver.”
Research shows that Blue Distinction Centers+ demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients, with lower rates of complications following certain cardiac procedures and lower rates of health care associated infections, compared with their peers. Blue Distinction Centers+ are also 20 percent more cost efficient for those same procedures. The Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program identifies hospitals delivering quality care in bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacements, spine surgery, and transplants. These specialty areas comprise approximately 30 percent of inpatient hospital expenditures.
For more information about the program and for a complete listing of the designated facilities, please visit www.bcbs.com/bluedistinction.
About Blue Distinction® Centers Blue Distinction Centers® (BDC) met overall quality measures for patient safety and outcomes, developed with input from the medical community. Blue Distinction Centers+SM (BDC+) also met cost measures that address consumers’ need for affordable health care. Individual outcomes may vary. National criteria are displayed on www.bcbs.com. A Local Blue Plan may require additional criteria for facilities located in its own service area. For details on Local Blue Plan Criteria, a provider’s in-network status, or your own policy’s coverage, contact your Local Blue Plan. Each hospital’s Cost Index is calculated with data from its Local Blue Plan. Hospitals in CA, ID, NY, PA, and WA may lie in two Local Blue Plans’ areas, resulting in two Cost Index figures; and their own Local Blue Plans decide whether one or both Cost Index figures must meet BDC+ national criteria. Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any Blue Plans are responsible for damages or non-covered charges resulting from Blue Distinction or other provider finder information or care received from Blue Distinction or other providers.
About Mercy Medical Center – North Iowa Mercy Medical Center - North Iowa is a faith-based, not-for-profit community health care system that offers comprehensive health care services for people throughout northern Iowa and southern Minnesota. Its mission is to serve together with CHE-Trinity Health (Novi, Michigan) in the spirit of the Gospel, to heal body, mind and spirit, to be the trusted healthcare partner for life.
About Wellmark Wellmark, Inc. (www.wellmark.com ) does business as Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. Wellmark and its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, including Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc., insure or pay health benefit claims for more than 2 million members in Iowa and South Dakota. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota, and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc. are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.