NCH is part of Endeavor Health

Learn more

News  ›  News Releases

NCH earns Blue Distinction® Center+ designation for Spine Surgery

October 15, 2019

National recognition for quality care and cost efficiency

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) has selected Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH) as a Blue Distinction Center+ for Spine Surgery, as part of the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program. Blue Distinction Centers are nationally designated healthcare facilities shown to deliver improved patient safety and better health outcomes, based on objective measures that were developed by Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies with input from the medical community.

Spinal surgeries are among the most common and expensive elective surgeries in the U.S., according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), which creates a significant opportunity to improve quality and value within the healthcare system. For example, there were more than 465,000 spinal fusion operations in the U.S. in 2011, and hospital costs for a fusion procedure average $27,5681 according to AHRQ.

Hospitals designated as Blue Distinction Centers+ for Spine Surgery demonstrate expertise in cervical and lumbar fusion, cervical laminectomy and lumbar laminectomy/discectomy procedures, resulting in fewer patient complications and hospital readmissions compared to other hospitals. Designated hospitals must also maintain national accreditation. 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 hospitals. Quality is key: only those facilities that first meet nationally established, objective quality measures will be considered for designation as a Blue Distinction Center+.

NCH is proud to be recognized by BCBSIL for meeting the rigorous selection criteria for spine surgery set by the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.

“This designation not only recognizes NCH for its commitment to quality outcomes, but also recognizes our excellence in patient care for spinal disorders,” says NCH Director of Neurosciences Shaun O’Leary, M.D., PhD, FAANS.

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, maternity care, spine surgery, and transplants, while encouraging healthcare professionals to improve the care they deliver.

“Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is proud to offer this important recognition,” says Derek Robinson, MD, MBA, FACEP, CHCQM, chief medical officer, BCBSIL.”It’s one of the ways we’re partnering with members, employers, providers and communities to help achieve their health goals.”

For more information about the program and for a complete listing of the designated facilities, please visit

1Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)