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Independence Blue Cross Announces Blue Distinction Centers(R) for Two New Specialties: Knee and Hip Replacement and Spine Surgery
Date:1/27/2010

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Independence Blue Cross (IBC) today announced that 19 area hospitals have achieved status as Blue Distinction Centers® for two new specialties: knee and hip replacement and spine surgery.

"It is a credit to the high caliber of medical care in our region that Philadelphia is home to so many facilities recognized as Blue Distinction Centers," said Joseph A. Frick, president and CEO at IBC.  "We are proud of our strong collaboration with physicians and hospitals through programs like Blue Distinction, our incentive-based provider reimbursement programs, and other joint efforts, like Patient Center Medical Home and Partnership for Patient Care, so that together we may improve the quality and affordability of care for everyone."

Blue Distinction is a nationwide program created by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association to help members easily identify outstanding medical centers that have demonstrated expertise in delivering quality health care. Previously established programs focus on cardiac care, bariatric surgery, transplants, and complex and rare cancers. In early 2010, the Blue Distinction program was expanded to include the Blue Distinction Centers for Knee and Hip Replacement(SM), and the Blue Distinction Centers for Spine Surgery(SM)  now bringing the nation's number of Blue Distinction designations to more than 1,600 -- and this number is expected to increase in the coming years.  

IBC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Richard L. Snyder says the expansion of the Blue Distinction program in these two specialties is timely and appropriate. The nation's aging population and growing proportion of seniors, as well as rising rates of obesity indicate that the need for costly hip and knee replacements will grow. A recent report by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons estimates U.S. residents undergo more than 478,000 knee replacements annually, with the number expected to reach 3.4 million by 2030. In addition, the academy estimates that residents undergo 234,000 total hip replacements annually, with the number expected to more than double by 2030. The average cost of a hip replacement ranges between $35,000 and $45,000.

"Hip and knee replacements, and spine surgery are proven methods of alleviating pain and restoring function and mobility," said Dr. Snyder. "However, the care that patients receive can vary, which is why a program like Blue Distinction that advocates best practices for high-quality and identifies facilities that meet those standards of care is so important."

IBC members may access the newly enhanced member web portal, ibxpress.com, to see which facilities are Blue Distinction Centers as well as other detailed information about a physician or hospital. This includes where their doctor went to medical school and other qualifications, or comparing hospitals based on experience, cost, patient satisfaction, and other important factors to help them make wise health care decisions about specific treatments and services.

Blue Distinction Centers listing

Of the 19 area hospitals to earn the latest Blue Distinction Centers status, seven of them achieved a distinction in both the knee and hip replacement and the spine surgery designations. These facilities are: Abington Memorial Hospital, Lankenau Hospital, Paoli Memorial Hospital, Pennsylvania Hospital, Riddle Memorial Hospital, Temple University Hospital, and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

Hospitals that achieved the Blue Distinction status for knee and hip replacement are: Albert Einstein at Elkins Park, Crozer - Chester Medical Center, Delaware County Memorial Hospital, Doylestown Hospital, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Mercy Suburban Hospital, Nazareth Hospital, Presbyterian Medical Center, and St. Mary Medical Center.

Hospitals that achieved the Blue Distinction status for spine surgery are: Albert Einstein Medical Center, Aria Health - Torresdale, and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Area hospitals had to apply to achieve Blue Distinction Center status. The selection process used administrative and clinical data supplied by hospitals. Each facility's structure, processes, and care outcomes were rigorously evaluated. The criteria for designation include nationally endorsed quality measures, developed in collaboration with medical experts and professional organizations. All hospitals chosen are a part of IBC's broad network of providers who offer high-quality comprehensive spine surgery or knee and hip replacement services. IBC participates in the Blue Distinction program as a member of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

About Independence Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. Nationwide, Independence Blue Cross and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.3 million people. For more than 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross's HMO and PPO health care plans have consistently received the highest ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

Independence Blue Cross supports comprehensive health care reform that would extend coverage to all Americans, reduce costs, and improve quality. We also advocate reform that builds on the current employer-based system that currently serves 170 million Americans. Learn more about our views on health care legislation now working its way through Congress by visiting our website at www.ibx.com/about_ibc/health_care_reform.

Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Note: Designation as Blue Distinction Centers means these facilities' overall experience and aggregate data met objective criteria established in collaboration with expert clinicians' and leading professional organizations' recommendations. Individual outcomes may vary. To find out which services are covered under your policy at any facilities, please call your local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield Plan.

SOURCE Independence Blue Cross

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