Jefferson Health – New Jersey’s Washington Township-based Maternity Center, a participating facility in Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey’s network, has been recognized with a Blue Distinction® Centers (BDC) for Maternity Care designation, as part of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.
Racial and ethnic disparities are persistent and widespread across maternal healthcare, primarily driven by socioeconomic status, geographic location, and implicit provider bias. Compared to similarly developed countries, such as Canada, Germany, and Australia, the United State has the highest maternal mortality rate (MMR), at approximately 17.4 deaths per 100,000 live births, with the MMR steadily increasing since 20001. According to the CDC, non-Hispanic Black women are two to three times more likely to die from preventable or treatable pregnancy-related complications compared to white women2.
To help address these gaps in care and to help ensure the better health of 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, such as preventable or treatable pregnancy-related conditions, high utilization of Caesarean sections, and racial and ethnic disparities in maternal healthcare. In 2018, facilities that received designations under the Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care program cared for more than 40% of Blue Cross and Blue Shield commercially insured women giving birth across the country.
Jefferson Health – New Jersey’s Maternity Center, based at Jefferson Washington Township Hospital, earned this designation by meeting the rigorous BDC quality selection criteria for maternity care set by the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.
Dr. Kenneth Covone, Chief of OB/GYN services at Jefferson Health – New Jersey, said the designation “speaks volumes about the great care our team delivers day-in and day-out. Patient safety and patient satisfaction have always been two of our top priorities, and this designation shows we provide top-notch care to all expectant mothers who come to us for maternity services.”
In 2020, the Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care 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 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 required previously. Specifically, the rate for low-risk, first-time cesarean sections (NTSV c-section rate, PC-02) has been aligned with the revised Healthy People 2020 goals. Facilities eligible for the Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care show statistically significant differences in key clinical outcomes compared to their peers.
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, those designated as Blue Distinction Centers demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients.