Published on February 25, 2021

Essentia Health earns Blue Distinction® Center designation for quality in knee and hip replacement surgeries

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota has selected Essentia Health as a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement, part of the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program. Blue Distinction Centers are nationally designated health care facilities that show a commitment to delivering high-quality patient safety and better health outcomes, based on objective measures that were developed with input from the medical community and leading accreditation and quality organizations.

Facilities designated as Blue Distinction Centers for Knee and Hip Replacement demonstrate expertise in total knee and total hip replacement surgeries, resulting in fewer patient complications and hospital readmissions. Designated facilities include hospitals (with and without an onsite intensive care unit) and ambulatory surgery centers (ASC). All designated facilities must maintain national accreditation, and ASCs are also required to have an advanced orthopedic certification. In addition to meeting these quality thresholds, hospitals designated as Blue Distinction Centers are on average 20% more cost-efficient in an episode of care compared to other facilities.

Knee and hip replacement procedures remain some of the most commonly performed, elective surgical procedures in the U.S., according to a 2018 study released by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. In 2014 there were 370,770 total hip replacements and 680,150 total knee replacements1.

Essentia Health is proud to be recognized by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota for meeting the robust selection criteria for knee and hip replacements set by the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.

Quality is key: Only those facilities that first meet nationally established, objective quality measures will be considered for designation as a Blue Distinction Center.

“Quality is the result of a carefully constructed culture and it is the fabric of our organization at Essentia Health,” shares Dr. Prasad Sawardeker, section chair, orthopedics surgery. “Our team is committed to excellence and this award is a testament to our commitment. It should serve to further assure the community that when you come to Essentia Health, you will be treated by the very best.”

“Blue Distinction Centers, a designation of outstanding quality, are at the forefront of BCBSND’s drive toward providing the best quality of care for our members. Facilities like Essentia Health with their commitment to outstanding orthopedic surgery care is an example of how BCBSND and our state’s health systems work together to ensure the highest quality of care for patients receiving orthopedic services,” says Dr. Greg Glasner, MD, chief medical officer at BCBSND. “Essentia Health has earned the honor of being recognized as a Blue Distinction Center in Fargo for its Orthopedic Surgery Hip and Knee Replacement program. As a Blue Distinction Center, Essentia Health has demonstrated its commitment to its patients, as well as its expertise in providing specialty care in orthopedics.”

The Blue Distinction Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality care in the areas of bariatric surgery, cancer care, cardiac care, cellular immunotherapy, fertility care, gene therapy, knee and hip replacements, maternity care, spine surgery, substance use treatment and recovery and transplants. Research for many of these programs show that, compared to other providers, those designated as Blue Distinction Centers demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients.

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

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