DETROIT, Feb. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigantoday recognized 39 hospitals for the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care ® program in the areas of Spine Surgery and Knee and Hip Replacement. Since 2006, the Blue Distinction program has identified hospitals that deliver quality care in Bariatric Surgery, Cardiac Care, Complex and Rare Cancers, Knee and Hip Replacements, Spine Surgery and Transplants. The Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program recently expanded to include new cost-efficiency measures, as well as more robust quality measures focused on improved patient health and safety. Ten facilities in Michigan are being recognized as Blue Distinction Centers for their expertise in delivering quality specialty care in Spine Surgery or Knee and Hip Replacement, and 29 are being recognized as Blue Distinction Centers+ for their expertise in quality and cost efficiency in delivering specialty care. Quality is key: only those facilities that first meet Blue Distinction's nationally established, objective quality measures will be considered for designation as Blue Distinction Centers+. This is a voluntary program, and hospitals must meet minimum criteria to earn designation. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association conducts the evaluation. In Michigan, hospitals must also participate in the Michigan Blues' Collaborative Quality Initiative programs, when applicable, in order to earn Blue Distinction designation. These Collaborative Quality Initiative programs have resulted in rapid quality and safety improvement in some of the most common and costly medical and surgical areas of care. In fact, four of the initiatives – focusing on general surgery, cardiac surgery, bariatric surgery and angioplasty – have resulted in cost savings of more than $232 million over three years due to avoided complications and improved safety. "Blue Distinction Center designations, together with our award-winning Collaborative Quality Initiatives, are important hallmarks of quality and safety that consumers and employers can use when deciding where to go for certain treatments and surgical procedures," says David Share, MD, MPH, senior vice president, Value Partnerships, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. These newly designated Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients, with lower rates of complications and readmissions than their peers. Nationally, Blue Distinction Centers+ are more than 20 percent more cost-efficient. The program provides consumers with tools to help them make better informed health care decisions. These results will also enable employers, working with their local Blue Plan, to tailor benefits to meet their individual quality and cost objectives.