Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center Earns Blue Distinction® Center Designation for Quality in Spine Surgery

July 2, 2020

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield has selected Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center as a Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery for the fifth consecutive period, as 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.

Spinal surgeries are one of the most frequent types of elective surgeries in the U.S. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality,(AHRQ), there were more than 463,000 spinal fusion operations conducted in the U.S. in 2014, a procedure commonly done in the lumbar region of the lower back to treat back pain. Hospital costs for a fusion procedure average $28,9001, according to AHRQ.

Facilities designated as Blue Distinction Centers® for Spine Surgery demonstrate expertise in cervical and lumbar fusion, cervical laminectomy and lumbar laminectomy/discectomy procedures, resulting in fewer patient complications and readmissions compared to other hospitals.  All designated facilities must maintain national accreditation.

Conemaugh Health System is proud to be recognized by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield for meeting the robust selection criteria for spine surgery set by the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.

“It’s been an honor to receive this distinction since 2012 for Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center’s expertise in spine surgery,” said Dr. Susan Williams, Chief Medical Officer for Conemaugh Health System. “Spinal injuries and abnormalities can cause tremendous pain and discomfort for many people in the community, and we take great pride in helping these patients enjoy at better quality-of-life when they choose to have spine surgery at Conemaugh.”

“The Blue Distinction program gives Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield members the ability to choose their providers based upon reliable quality and safety information. It also provides a pathway for exceptional Providers to demonstrate their value, and delivers the kind of transparency necessary for members to make informed value-driven healthcare decisions. We congratulate our Blue Distinction Specialty Care Providers on their accomplishment and thank our members for choosing Highmark BCBS”, said Dr. Charles DeShazer, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Highmark Health Plan.

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 shows that, compared to other providers, those designated as Blue Distinction Centers demonstrate high-quality and improved outcomes for patients.

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

To learn more about options to treat back pain, including surgery, call the Conemaugh Spine Center at (814) 534-7746.