Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Recognizes 11 Local Hospitals for Quality in Cardiac Care

July 15, 2013

Blue Distinction® designations measure the delivery of quality and cost-efficient cardiac procedures

EAGAN, Minn. (July 15, 2013) — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota today congratulates 11 Minnesota hospitals for delivering quality cardiac care as part of the national Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care® program. These hospitals have been designated either as Blue Distinction Centers® for delivering quality care, or as Blue Distinction Centers+ SM for delivering quality care while also meeting key requirements for cost-efficiency.

In 2006, the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program was developed to help patients find quality providers for specialty care by identifying hospitals that meet objective, transparent, and nationally consistent measures developed with input from the medical community. 

To receive a Blue Distinction Center for Cardiac Care® designation, a hospital must demonstrate success in meeting both general quality and safety criteria (such as preventing hospital-acquired infections) and cardiac-specific quality measures (related to lower rates of complications and death following cardiac surgery; and non-surgical procedures, such as cardiac stent placement).

Hospitals receiving the Blue Distinction Center+ for Cardiac CareSM designation, a new designation level added to the program this year, have met the Blue Distinction Centers standards for quality, while also demonstrating better cost efficiency relative to their 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+. 

Minnesota facilities recognized as Blue Distinction Centers and/or Blue Distinction Centers+ (indicated by the plus symbol) for cardiac care include:

• Abbott Northwestern Hospital (Allina), Minneapolis
• Fairview Southdale Hospital, Edina
• HealthEast St. Joseph's Hospital, St. Paul (+)
• Mayo Clinic St. Mary's Hospital, Rochester 
• Mercy Hospital (Allina), Coon Rapids (+)
• North Memorial Health Care, Robbinsdale (+)
• Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital, St. Louis Park (+)
• Regions Hospital, St. Paul (+)
• St. Luke's Hospital, Duluth
• United Hospital, St. Paul (+)
• University of Minnesota Medical Center Fairview, Minneapolis (+)
"This exceptional group of providers has met the highest clinical standards for cardiac care," said Dr. Larry Lee, executive medical director for provider relations and quality at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. "I want to congratulate them for their 2013 Blue Distinction designation and ensuring that Blue Cross members have access to clinical excellence throughout Minnesota."

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming nearly 600,000 lives each year. Cardiac procedures, including bypass and cardiac stent placement, are among the most common major medical procedures provided by the US health care system, with more than 1 million procedures performed annually. These cardiac related procedures cost the nation more than $28 billion annually. The Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program seeks to reduce this burden, by empowering patients with the knowledge and tools to find both quality and value for their cardiac care needs.

Research shows that Blue Distinction Centers demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients, with lower rates of complications following certain cardiac procedures and lower rates of healthcare associated infections, compared with their peers.

The Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program identifies hospitals delivering quality care in bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacements, spine surgery, and transplants.  These specialty areas comprise approximately 30 percent of inpatient hospital expenditures.  For more information about the program and for a complete listing of the designated facilities, please visit

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota ( ), with headquarters in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota’s first health plan and continues to carry out its charter mission today: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. A nonprofit, taxable organization, Blue Cross is the largest health plan based in Minnesota, covering 2.9 million members in Minnesota and nationally through its health plans or plans administered by its affiliated companies. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago.

Blue Distinction® Centers met overall quality measures for patient safety and outcomes, developed with input from the medical community. Blue Distinction® Centers+ also met cost measures that address consumers’ need for affordable healthcare. Individual outcomes may vary. National criteria are displayed on  A Local Blue Plan may require additional criteria for facilities located in its own service area.  To find out which services and providers (including hospital based physicians) are covered under your policy, or to learn about Local Blue Plan Criteria, contact your Local Blue Plan; and contact your provider before making an appointment to verify its current Network and Blue Distinction Centers status. Each hospital’s Cost Index is calculated separately, based on data from its Local Blue Plan. Hospitals in portions of CA, ID, NY, PA, and WA may lie in areas served by two Local Blue Plans, resulting in two Cost Index figures; and their own Local Blue Plans decide whether all hospitals in these areas must meet Blue Distinction Centers+ national criteria for one or both Cost Index figures. Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any Blue Plans are responsible for damages, losses, or non-covered charges resulting from Blue Distinction or other provider finder information or care received from Blue Distinction or other providers.  To find out more, contact your Local Blue Plan.

For more information:

Jim McManus
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota