Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona named Bridges Center for Surgical Weight Management at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Phoenix as part of its Blue Distinction® Centers for Specialty Care program. This healthcare facility has been designated as a Blue Distinction® Center+ for delivering quality care resulting in better overall outcomes for bariatric patients, while also meeting key requirements for cost efficiency.
To receive a Blue Distinction Center+ for Bariatric Surgery designation, a new designation added to the program this year, a healthcare 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 healthcare facility must also have earned national accreditations at both the facility level and the bariatric care-specific level, as well as demonstrate 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+.
“The Blue Distinction Specialty Care recognition program was developed to identify healthcare facilities with proven expertise in delivering specialty care,” said Dr. Vishu Jhaveri, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona chief medical officer. “The Bridges Center for Surgical Weight Loss Management team at St. Luke’s Medical Center has a commitment to quality and helping members better manage their care through the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.”
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. 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 healthcare 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 and 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-Blue Distinction Center+ designated healthcare facilities.
“We’re honored to receive this noteworthy designation,” said Hilario Juarez, M.D., FACS, Co-Medical Director of Bridges Center for Surgical Weight Management at St. Luke’s Medical Center. “Our team is dedicated to making positive experiences for our patients by guiding and supporting them through every step of their weight loss journeys.”
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 healthcare professionals to improve the care they deliver.
For more information about the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program and for a complete listing of the designated facilities, visit www.bcbs.com/bluedistinction.