SEATTLE – Regence BlueShield has designated seven Western Washington medical centers as Blue Distinction Centers for Spine Surgery, and Blue Distinction Centers for Knee and Hip Replacements. Blue Distinction Centers for Spine Surgery and Knee and Hip Replacements are part of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association’s expansion of its Blue Distinction® designation.
The Western Washington Medical Centers that have been recognized are:
  • Capital Medical Center, Olympia – Knee and Hip Replacement
  • Harborview Medical Center, Seattle – Spine Surgery
  • Overlake Hospital Medical Center, Bellevue – Knee and Hip Replacement
  • St. Joseph Hospital, Bellingham – Knee and Hip Replacement
  • Swedish Medical Center – First Hill, Seattle – Knee and Hip Replacement
  • Valley Medical Center, Renton – Spine Surgery
  • Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle – Knee and Hip Replacement
“We’re honored to partner with these facilities that have earned these distinctions,” said Jonathan Hensley, president of Regence BlueShield in Washington. “These medical centers have met quality standards and have proven that they deliver positive outcomes in patient 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 Spine Surgery and a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement the following types of criteria were evaluated. More information on selection criteria is available on
  • 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 health care 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 additional Blue Distinction Centers for Spine Surgery and Blue Distinction Centers for Knee and Hip Replacement designations will bring the nation’s number of Blue Distinction designations to more than 1,600—and this number is expected to increase in the coming years. 
About Regence BlueShield:
Regence BlueShield is a leading health plan in Washington with more than one million members, offering health, life and dental insurance. Regence is the largest health insurer in the Northwest / Intermountain Region, serving more than 2.5 million members as Regence BlueShield (selected counties in Washington), Regence BlueShield of Idaho, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon and Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah. Each plan is a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Regence is committed to improving the health of our members and our communities, and to transforming our health care system. For more information, please visit or
Note: Designation as Blue Distinction Centers means these facilities’ overall experience and aggregate data met objective criteria established in collaboration with expert clinicians’ and leading professional organizations’ recommendations. Individual outcomes may vary. To find out which services are covered under your policy at any facilities, please call your local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield Plan.