Blue Distinction Award




NEWTON, Mass. (January 27, 2010) –
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts recently recognized Newton-Wellesley Hospital (NWH) with a Blue Distinction® Designation for demonstrating reliability in delivering knee/hip replacement with better overall outcomes for patients. Newton-Wellesley is one of several hospitals across the state that was awarded this designation for its Joint Replacement Program. It is anticipated that 21 facilities will be designated by the end of March 2010.

"We’re honored to receive this latest recognition," said Joseph McCarthy, MD, Medical Director, Kaplan Center for Joint Reconstruction Surgery at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. "It is a direct reflection of our medical team’s expertise and commitment to patient care. We are proud of our unique, multidisciplinary approach that sets us apart, providing patients with a range of options to treat their knee and hip pain."

Blue Distinction® is a nationwide program that recognizes medical facilities that meet a national set of objective, evidence-based thresholds for clinical quality developed in collaboration with expert clinicians and leading medical organizations.

Based on clinical data from hospitals and registries, research indicates that Blue Distinction Centers demonstrate better, more consistent overall outcomes with fewer post-procedure complications and lower mortality rates. This designation provides consumers with a credible means of selecting facilities that best meet their individual specialty care needs. Newton-Wellesley Hospital was awarded a similar Blue Distinction Designation recently for bariatric surgery.

"Improving quality of care is integral to transforming the health care system," said Dr. John Fallon, Chief Physician Executive at BCBSMA. "Facilities like Newton-Wellesley Hospital are helping Massachusetts achieve this by ensuring patients receive the safest, most effective specialty care."

The selection criteria used to evaluate facilities were developed with input from a panel of expert physicians. To be designated as a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement, the following types of criteria were evaluated:

  • Established acute care inpatient facility, including intensive care, emergency care, and a full range of patient support services with full accreditation by a CMS-deemed national accreditation organization
  • Experience and training of program surgeons, including case volume
  • Quality management programs, including surgical checklists as well as tracking and evaluation of clinical outcomes and process of care
  • Multi-disciplinary clinical pathways and teams to coordinate and streamline care, including transitions of care
  • Shared decision making and preoperative patient education
The Blue Distinction designation is awarded by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies to medical facilities that have demonstrated expertise in delivering quality healthcare in the areas of bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacement, spine surgery and transplants. The program is part of The Blues® efforts to collaborate with physicians and medical facilities to improve the overall quality and safety of specialty care.

The Jim and Ellen Kaplan Center for Joint Reconstruction Surgery is a collaboration between Newton-Wellesley Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital designed to provide the highest level of orthopaedic treatment for joint injuries and disease while allowing immediate access to a range of services, specialists, and sophisticated procedures at Newton-Wellesley.

The Joint Center team provides superior patient care from diagnosis to recovery by combining the expertise of orthopaedic surgeons with innovative, specialized services like total joint arthroscopy and joint resurfacing. Arthroscopy, a minimally invasive procedure used to evaluate and treat many common hip disorders, is an alternative to open surgery, which involves larger incisions and increased recovery time. Various other minimally invasive surgical techniques are also utilized to provide more outpatient procedures, shorter inpatient stays and decreased recovery time.

Surgeons in the Joint Center perform computer-navigated surgery, various conservative muscle and bone-sparing techniques and new, improved pain management methods that result in easier, faster recovery from joint repair and replacement. These orthopaedic specialists treat various conditions including orthopaedic disorders that affect the joints such as degenerative joint disease, cartilage and labral injury, joint malalignment and ligament and tendon tears, including soft tissue injuries.

Physicians in the Kaplan Joint Center also have access to a digital orthopaedic surgical planning and templating product, allowing surgeons to manipulate digital diagnostic images, apply digital templates to the image, and plan for various surgical joint procedures electronically. This new technology expands a surgeon’s preoperative planning capabilities – an essential step surgeons take to ensure successful outcomes for their patients.

For more information about knee and hip replacement at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, call CareFinder at (866) NWH-DOCS (694-3627) or visit

Newton-Wellesley is a full system member of Partners HealthCare System, Inc. (PHCS), a nonprofit organization that includes acute care hospitals Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's/Faulkner Hospitals, The North Shore Medical Center, and specialty hospitals McLean Hospital and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, as well as Dana-Farber/Partners CancerCare, and the community-based doctors and hospitals of Partners Community HealthCare, Inc.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts ( was founded 73 years ago by a group of community-minded business leaders. Today, headquartered in Boston, BCBSMA provides coverage to nearly 3 million members, 2.5 million in Massachusetts. BCBSMA believes in rewarding doctors and hospitals for delivering safe and effective care, and in empowering patients to take more responsibility, become educated health care consumers and become stronger partners with their doctors. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

Rachel Kagno
Public Affairs & Marketing
Newton-Wellesley Hospital

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