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September 21, 2023

DES MOINES, Iowa — Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced that select health care facilities in Iowa have received Blue Distinction® Centers or Blue Distinction Centers+ for Knee and Hip Replacement programs, as part of the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program External Link.

Blue Distinction Centers are nationally designated health care facilities that show expertise in delivering high-quality patient safety and better health outcomes, based on objective measures that were developed with input from the medical community and leading accreditation and quality organizations. Only those facilities that first meet nationally established quality and cost measures for Blue Distinction Centers are considered for designation as Blue Distinction Centers+.

Facilities designated as Blue Distinction Centers for knee and hip replacement demonstrate expertise in total knee and total hip replacement surgeries, resulting in fewer patient complications and readmissions. In addition to meeting these quality thresholds, facilities designated as Blue Distinction Centers+ are, on average, 20 percent more cost-efficient in an episode of care compared to other facilities.

Knee and hip replacement procedures remain some of the most commonly performed, elective surgical procedures in the U.S., according to a study released by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons External Link. In 2014, there were 370,770 total hip replacements and 680,150 total knee replacements.

The following health care facilities have been designated under the Blue Distinction Centers for Knee and Hip Replacement programs:

  • Iowa Lutheran Hospital — Blue Distinction Center+
  • Mahaska Health Partnership — Blue Distinction Center

Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality specialty care in the areas of bariatric surgery, cancer care, cardiac care, cellular immunotherapy, fertility care, gene therapy, knee and hip replacements, maternity care, spine surgery, substance use treatment and recovery, and transplants, while encouraging health care professionals to improve the care they deliver.

For more information about the program and for a complete listing of the designated health care providers, visit External Link.