CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Practice makes perfect – or at least greatly improves performance. This simple but powerful idea underlies Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC)’s decision to designate 17 high-volume heart facilities across the state as Cardiac Centers of Excellence. The designation is part of the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association’s (BCBSA) Blue Centers for Cardiac Care program.
The common sense idea that repetition improves performance is, in fact, strongly supported by the medical community. All 17 facilities perform at least 100 open-heart surgeries each year and have a proven track record of delivering favorable outcomes. The Centers of Excellence designation provides this information to patients so that they can make more informed decisions about where to go for non-emergency cardiac care.
"It’s no secret that the more you do something, the better you get at it. When it comes to heart surgery, there is ample evidence that institutions with experience deliver better outcomes," said Bob Greczyn, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. "As the state's largest health insurer, we want to give that information to our members to help them make prudent choices about where to receive non-emergency cardiac care."
The 17 Cardiac Centers of Excellence are full-service, fully accredited facilities that submitted data meeting nationally recognized criteria for experience and quality. The criteria were developed through a collaboration of expert physician panels and national organizations in conjunction with the BCBSA's Blue Centers for Cardiac Care program. The list of Cardiac Centers of Excellence becomes part of a comprehensive database that is accessible to Blue Cross and Blue Shield members across the country. This collaborative approach to sharing data gives BCBSNC customers access to not only pertinent information about local and regional centers of excellence, but the national overview as well.
Cardiac Centers of Excellence are (in alphabetical order):
Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, Fayetteville
Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital, Greensboro
Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte
New Hanover Regional Medical Ctr., Wilmington
Craven Regional Medical Center, New Bern
North Carolina Baptist Hospital, Winston-Salem
Duke University Hospital, Durham
Northeast Medical Center, Concord
Forsyth Medical Center, Winston-Salem
Presbyterian Hospital, Charlotte
Frye Regional Medical Center, Hickory
Rex Hospital, Raleigh
Gaston Memorial Hospital, Gastonia
UNC Hospitals, Chapel Hill
High Point Regional Hospital, High Point
WakeMed Raleigh Campus, Raleigh
FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, Pinehurst
"We urge any person having symptoms of a heart attack to get quickly to the nearest emergency facility for evaluation and treatment," said Dr. Robert T. Harris, BCBSNC chief medical officer, "But when non-urgent heart procedures are being considered, we suggest patients learn about hospitals performing those procedures and make informed decisions about where they wish to seek care."
BCBSNC members have a variety of ways to identify Cardiac Centers of Excellence: self-promotion by the Cardiac Centers of Excellence, physician referrals and BCBSNC's website,, where the list of centers is available. The facilities are also included in the BCBSA’s state-by-state listing of Blue Centers for Cardiac Care on and are available by calling 1-800-810-BLUE.
Cardiac Centers of Excellence are part of a larger BCBSNC initiative to identify doctors and hospitals in North Carolina demonstrating the greatest commitment to quality. BCBSNC named Centers of Excellence for Morbid Obesity Surgery in 2004. The Centers of Excellence designation is being considered for other types of specialty care as well.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is a leader in delivering innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3.3 million members, including approximately 639,000 served on behalf of other Blue Plans. For 72 years, the company has served its customers by offering health insurance at a competitive price and has served the people of North Carolina through support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Access BCBSNC online at