Catalyst for Payment Reform

Are Centers of Excellence a Win-Win?

Are Centers of Excellence a Win-Win?

Dorothy Parker once said, “There is no cure for curiosity.”  Unless you’re curious about Centers of Excellence, that is!

So, what’s a center of excellence?  Let’s start with the basics.  As an employer or other health care purchaser you are likely aware that some covered services cost a lot more than others.  Think of services like heart, spine, and transplant surgeries.  What’s more, these services often vary in quality as well as price.

In order to combat this variation in quality and price and keep health care costs down for these covered services, employers and payers sometimes designate specific high-quality provider groups to deliver these services, especially if they agree to do them at a lower cost.  These designated provider groups are called centers of excellence, or COEs.

Think of a COE as a “win-win.”  Providers benefit from the COE designation because it will likely bring them more patients (the designation makes them stick out in a good way) and benefit designs usually make the COE a financially favorable option for employees.  In turn, employers benefit from lower costs and a healthier, more productive workforce.  And, most importantly, consumers benefit as they can more easily find and receive high quality, more affordable services.  So, it’s actually more of a “win-win-WIN.”


Despite it’s potential to deliver better value for health care spending, employers and other health care purchasers underuse the COE approach.  To all you employers and health care purchasers out there, be sure to check out our Webinar: Exploring Centers of Excellence!

Listen to Ginny Proestakes, Director of Health Benefits at GE, share insights from her company’s robust COE strategy, including:

  • How they designed and operationalized their strategy
  • Results they have derived from the approach
  • What they would do differently next time

If you’re a registered employer or other health care purchaser on our site, you can listen to this event for free HERE

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