Friday, January 7, 2011

What Is A Bariatric Center Of Excellence?

As you look for providers for your weight loss surgery in the Houston area, you may have noted that some providers list themselves as "centers of excellence" (COE). What does this designation mean though? Who is accrediting these facilites as COEs. In case you were confused, check out what Gary M. Pratt, the CEO of and independent nonprofit entity that monitors bariatric surgery worldwide, has to say about the COE program:
Surgical Review Corporation (SRC), in collaboration with the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), has created a program to help highlight providers who deliver excellent care. The ASMBS Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence® (BSCOE) designation helps identify where patients like you can expect to receive safer and more effective surgical treatment. Our program is tough, comprehensive and increasingly recognized by leading government and private insurers when making coverage decisions. These aren’t general surgeons who “dabble” in bariatric surgery - instead, you’ll hear most BSCOE surgeons refer to their work as a vocational calling. 
Simply put, the application process to become a BSCOE is tough. In fact, we believe it to be the most rigorous in the industry. Applicants must meet a list of requirements. They must pass a thorough site inspection that includes a full review of the facilities; interviews with surgeons, staff and leaders of the hospital; and a detailed review of medical charts.
But, our process is tougher for another reason. Other center of excellence programs focus their review on the hospital only. We believe that both the hospital and the surgeon must work together to ensure that you receive the best care possible. SRC reviews both and designates them individually based upon whether they meet program requirements. Just because the hospital receives the BSCOE designation does not mean that all surgeons working there should automatically pass, 
The requirements of the BSCOE program are comprehensive. They were established to assess each facet of care specific to bariatric surgery patients. Once the center and its surgeons achieve this prestigious designation, they must continue to work hard to keep it. In fact, they are re-evaluated and site inspected every three years. 
Education and commitment are two key elements of designation. BSCOE surgeons must be board-certified and demonstrate significant expertise in bariatric surgery. They must also stay abreast of the most current and appropriate treatments through ongoing continuing medical education. 
Experience is demonstrated through the number of cases that BSCOE centers must perform each year. Studies show that surgeons and hospitals with higher volumes achieve better results with fewer mortalities, complications, re-operations and revisions.
Also, higher volume centers are more likely to offer extended resources, such as a multidisciplinary team of specialists, important for the care of bariatric patients.
SRC requires that each BSCOE hospital perform at least 125 bariatric surgical cases each year. BSCOE surgeons must perform at least 50 bariatric cases each year with a minimum of 125 total bariatric cases in their lifetime. 
Multidisciplinary care is integral to the treatment of a bariatric patient and is required for BSCOE designation. The multidisciplinary team assembled at a BSCOE generally includes nutritionists, psychologists, pulmonologists, cardiologists and other medical specialists trained in bariatric care. 
BSCOE centers devote a tremendous amount of time and resources to training these team members, BSCOE centers also offer support groups that meet regularly and are led by healthcare professionals who can address questions you might have before and after your surgery. BSCOE centers also invest thousands of dollars annually to ensure that their patients return after surgery for proper follow-up. This postoperative care is critical to maintaining weight-loss and ensuring your nutritional needs are met. 
All BSCOE participants are also required to report their detailed patient outcomes information on a regular basis using SRC’s Bariatric Outcomes Longitudinal Database™ (BOLD™). It helps SRC keep watch on how well these hospitals and surgeons are doing in real-time, but it also serves other important purposes. 
Several major health insurers have taken notice of the ASMBS BSCOE program and BOLD™. Insurers such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), CIGNA, Humana, Kaiser Permanente, and some Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, require the BSCOE designation as a first-step for inclusion in their bariatric surgery networks and reimbursement. However, more work is needed to increase access to bariatric surgery. SRC and the Obesity Action Coalition are actively committed to patient advocacy, but your voice is needed. 
While the BSCOE designation represents excellence, it doesn’t guarantee perfection. As with any surgery, there are associated risks and complications with bariatric treatment. Care is particularly challenging because morbid obesity usually involves a myriad of other medical problems that need to be addressed. 
To summarize, here are the key points that separate a bariatric surgery center of excellence from other providers of weight loss surgery around greater Houston:

  • Board-certified Houston-based surgeons
  • Separate certification process for Houston area bariatric surgery hospitals
  • Re-evaluation process every 3 years
  • Surgeons must perform 50 bariatric surgeries per year with a minimum of 125 weight loss surgeries performed lifetime
  • Weight loss centers must perform at least 125 obesity surgery cases per year
  • Multidisciplinary care
  • Long-term follow-up 
  • Improved insurance coverage
While no system can guarantee weight loss surgery success, having your weight loss surgery in a Houston area Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence can improve your chances of having a safe and effective bariatric surgery experience. 


WeightLossSeeker said...


Thank you for the informative post. If you're opposed to the risks involved in surgery and are open to other great weight loss providers in the Houston area, this place seems really great:


John Livingston said...

This certification is definitely one of the most recognized bariatric certifications in the industry. The rigorous process and requirements to obtain a bariatric surgery center of excellence certification contributes directly to a trustworthy, professional and experienced medical center. Patients should look for this, as they can rest assured that a bariatric clinic with this certification is dedicated to professional health care.
John, from Diabetics in Los Angeles.

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