In an effort to help prospective parents find hospitals that deliver quality, affordable maternity care, Florida Blue announced that Brandon Regional Hospital, Citrus Memorial Hospital, Medical Center of Trinity and St. Petersburg General Hospital have been designated as some of the first hospitals to receive the Blue Distinction(R) Center+ for Maternity Care designation, a new designation under the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.
Nearly four million babies are born in the U.S. annually, making childbirth the most common cause of hospitalization. The new Blue Distinction Centers+ for 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 have agreed to meet requirements that align with principles that support evidence-based practices of care. This includes initiating 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.
Blue Distinction Centers+ for Maternity Care, an expansion of the national Blue Distinction Specialty Care program, include hospitals recognized for delivering quality, affordable 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 also meet requirements for cost efficiency.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies across the nation have recognized more than 650 hospitals as Blue Distinction Centers+ for Maternity Care. Hospitals recognized for these designations were assessed using a combination of publicly available quality information and cost measures derived from BCBS companies' medical claims.
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 www.bcbs.com/bluedistinction.