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Excellus honors UHS for quality maternity care

July 15, 2021

UHS Wilson Medical Center in Greater Binghamton has been recognized by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield with a “Blue Distinction® Centers (BDC) for Maternity Care” designation as part of the Blue Distinction Specialty Care Program.

“We are very pleased to have been chosen for this distinction, as it is a reflection of our commitment to creating an outstanding patient experience,” said John M. Carrigg, president and chief executive officer of UHS.  “Excellus has honored UHS Wilson Medical Center for the quality and cost-effectiveness of our maternity care and for our commitment to eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in the maternal care experience.”

Such disparities can be persistent and widespread across maternal care nationwide, primarily driven by socioeconomic status, geographic location and provider bias.  Compared to similarly developed countries, such as Canada, Germany and Australia, the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate, at approximately 17.4 deaths per 100,000 live births, with the MMR steadily climbing since 2000.

Within the UHS System, UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital is also a Blue Distinction honoree.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, non-Hispanic Black women are two to three times more likely to die from preventable or treatable pregnancy-related complications, compared to White women.

To address these gaps in care and help ensure better health for mothers, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association enhanced its quality evaluation for the maternity care program to address key factors driving the United States’ maternal health crisis.  These include preventable or treatable pregnancy-related conditions, high utilization of caesarean sections and racial and ethnic disparities in maternal healthcare.

Overall, cost of care episodes for vaginal and cesarean births at BDC facilities are 20 percent less than those at non-BDCs. The rates of episiotomies were 49 percent less at BDCs than those at non-BDCs.  In 2018, designated facilities across the country cared for more than 40 percent of Blue Cross and Blue Shield commercially insured women giving birth.

In 2020, the distinction program was expanded beyond traditional outcome measures to include assessments of internal quality improvement, data collection and dissemination, and internal protocols that better address clinical quality and equity issues in maternity care.

New in the evaluation cycle, facilities must collect race and ethnicity data, have a maternal quality improvement program, commence drills and simulations for adverse events, and have dedicated protocols and procedures for the management of hypertension and hemorrhage.

In addition, they must meet clinical outcome metrics at a higher standard than previously required.  Specifically, the rate for low-risk, first-time cesarean sections has been aligned with the revised Healthy People 2020 goals. Facilities eligible for the distinction show statistically significant differences in key clinical outcomes compared to their peers.

“Quality is key,” Mr. Carrigg noted.  “Only those healthcare facilities that first meet the nationally established, objective Blue Distinction quality measures are considered for designation as ‘Blue Distinction Centers+.’”

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 replacement, maternity care, spine surgery, substance use treatment and recovery, and transplants, while encouraging healthcare professionals to improve the care they deliver.

Research shows that, compared to other providers, the designated facilities demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients.

For more information about the program and for a complete listing of the designated providers, visit www.bcbs.com/bluedistinction.

Blue Distinction Centers such as UHS Wilson Medical Center meet overall quality measures, developed with input from the medical community. Blue Distinction Centers+ also met cost measures that address consumers’ need for affordable healthcare.