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Published on May 10, 2013

Mercy Medical Center-Cedar Rapids receives Blue Distinction® Center designations for quality & efficiency

Blue Distinction® designation helps consumers to identify high-performing hospitals 

Blue Distinction Center + for Knee and Hip Replacement and Spine SurgeryWellmark® Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® has named Mercy Medical Center-Cedar Rapids as a Blue Distinction Center Plus (+) in the areas of spine surgery, knee and hip replacement. The Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care® program is a national designation awarded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies to medical facilities that have demonstrated expertise in delivering quality specialty care – and has recently expanded to include more robust quality measures focused on improved patient health and safety as well as new cost-efficiency measures.

Since 2006, consumers, medical providers and employers have relied on the Blue Distinction program to identify hospitals delivering quality care in Bariatric Surgery, Cardiac Care, Complex and Rare Cancers, Knee and Hip Replacements, Spine Surgery, and Transplants. The selection criteria used to evaluate facilities were developed with input from the medical community, and include general quality and safety metrics plus program specific metrics. Mercy Medical Center is proud to have met the rigorous selection criteria set by the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program. 

"The Blue Distinction Center designation places a high value on research and evidence-based health outcomes,” said Timothy Gutshall, M.D., Wellmark Vice President and Chief Medical Officer. “It also celebrates and affirms the excellence and commitment of the physicians and staff of these health systems in combining state-of-the-art surgery with state-of-the-art care.”

Research confirms that the newly designated Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients, with lower rates of complications and readmissions than their peers. Blue Distinction Centers+ are also more than 20 percent more cost-efficient. The program provides consumers with tools to help them make better informed healthcare decisions, and these results enable employers, working with their local Blue Plan, to tailor benefits to meet their individual quality objectives.


Blue Distinction® Centers met overall quality measures for patient safety and outcomes, developed with input from the medical community. Blue Distinction® Centers+ also met cost measures that address consumers’ need for affordable healthcare. Individual outcomes may vary. National criteria is displayed on www.bcbs.com. A Local Blue Plan may require additional criteria for facilities located in its own service area. To find out which services and providers (including hospital based physicians) are covered under your policy, or to learn about Local Blue Plan Criteria, contact your Local Blue Plan; and contact your provider before making an appointment to verify its current Network and Blue Distinction Centers status. Each hospital’s Cost Index is calculated separately, based on data from its Local Blue Plan. Hospitals in portions of CA, ID, NY, PA, and WA may lie in areas served by two Local Blue Plans, resulting in two Cost Index figures; and their own Local Blue Plans decide whether all hospitals in these areas must meet Blue Distinction Centers+ national criteria for one or both Cost Index figures. Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any Blue Plans are responsible for damages, losses, or non-covered charges resulting from Blue Distinction or other provider finder information or care received from Blue Distinction or other providers. To find out more, contact your Local Blue Plan.

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