As the nation transitions under a new administration that will undoubtedly influence the direction of health care on a national scale, Baylor Scott & White Health is going through a transition of its own. On January 16, 2017, the system welcomed its new president and chief executive officer, James H. "Jim" Hinton. Jim replaced Joel T. Allison, who retired.
Although Jim says he wasn’t looking to move from his former position as president and chief executive officer of Presbyterian Healthcare Services - the state of New Mexico’s largest provider of health care - he was certainly well prepared. During his tenure at Presbyterian, which spanned more than two decades, Jim led the development of its integrated system, which includes Presbyterian Health Plan and Presbyterian Medical Group. He has also been named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the industry by Modern Healthcare magazine.
In 2014, he served as chairman of the board of the American Hospital Association (AHA), which represents nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems and other providers of care through advocacy and public policy.
"I wasn’t looking for a job when this came along, but the reputation at Baylor Scott & White, the reputation of its clinicians, the opportunity to live in a great community like Dallas and to work across the state of Texas was just too much to pass up," Jim said.
"I have traveled extensively throughout the United States and have been exposed to many other health care systems," Jim said of his experiences with the AHA. "I have witnessed hundreds of variations - systems serving health care needs in rural, inner-city/urban and suburban communities. I have seen different models of how physicians are organized. I have seen differences in the effectiveness and influence of health insurance plans on citizens in various populations. I think all of those things helped me view the Baylor Scott & White Health system through a broad and informed lens."
During the February Baylor Health Care System Foundation board meeting, Jim met many Foundation board members. He’s eager to continue developing relationships with our special friends. "We have some very generous donors who have put a mark on this system forever," he said. "We need to continue to cultivate that generosity, and encourage those connections in every way that we can."
Technology and the Patient Experience
Jim is looking forward to building on a strong history of taking care of patients in the communities we serve. One area that interests him is scaling the use of health information technology to improve the patient experience.
"I don’t think any of us would have a relationship with a bank that didn’t have electronic banking. That is just a basic requirement for the institution and the consumer - having quick access to financial information," Jim said. "Consumers come to health care with those same expectations. I think that the goal of a system like Baylor Scott & White should be to connect as much of the care process, the financial responsibility process, and the registration and scheduling processes, as can be connected through a common or easily navigable platform."
He noted that in many parts of the country now, face-to-face doctor visits are being supplemented with video visits, and other "asynchronous interactions," such as the use of email for doctors and patients to communicate with one another. "The system has made big investments in that area. There’s a few more to be made. Each year, we have to be more convenient than we were the previous year," Jim said.
Widening Our View of Population Health
Commenting on the growing focus on population health, Jim said the concept is rather simple: health starts outside the health care system. "It starts with the issues patients have in their daily lives - is the environment safe, is the water and air clean, do they wear a seatbelt and follow the preventative health care guidelines?" The health care system can be a trusted source when people need this type of guidance.
But, he added, "Another thing to keep in mind on population health is that the federal government, the state Medicaid programs, the commercial insurers, have a lot of information on how health systems perform. It’s incumbent upon the health systems to know how they are perceived from the standpoint of cost, quality and service."
Jim is looking forward to working with system leaders and clinicians to help steer Baylor Scott & White in itsvision to be the most trusted name in giving and receiving safe, quality, compassionate health care.
"No matter what the futureholds, no matter what comes out of Washington, D.C., or Austin, Texas, Baylor Scott & White Health is going to be here for Texans," Jim said. "We’re going to continue to do an amazing job, and we’re going to continue to be one of the great health care systems in the entire United States."
He recently took time to talk with the torch editors about his move from New Mexico, his family and, of course, cowboy boots.
I don’t think I would have considered a role in a for-profit system. I have no problem at all with capitalism. I think it’s great. It helped build America. But I really am most comfortable in a system that has a broader context for healing and mission and purpose, than just what you earn every month. That is very important to me.
We get that question a lot. My dad was a residential homebuilder. I don’t remember him ever really talking about health care much, but both of my parents were very committed to giving and service. I think being in health care is one of the ways you can express that in your life. That’s probably where we got it.
My wife, Kristen, has worked in communications and public policy in health care. She’s a proud graduate of Butler University and went to Northwestern for her master’s degree.
My daughter Rebecca is almost 30, and she’s a registered nurse. My son Robert is 26 and works for a health system in New York City. Then, Ethan is 13. He is interested in three things: baseball, baseball and baseball. He actually played in the Little League Regional World Series in Waco last year.
My daughter Nora, who’s 11, wants to be the first female president of the United States.
Jim Collins, the business author, is quoted as saying that you need to make sure you have good "Who Luck," which means you surround yourself with successful people who can help you learn and progress in ways that you couldn’t on your own. Collins says you become lucky by the number of influential people you’ve had in your life. I have really been blessed with many. I can think of some who taught me the value of hard work, about being industrious. I worked for a man whoowned a shoe store, who taught me what I needed to know about customer service and taking care of customers.
I worked for a leader who was my first boss in health care, who really taught me the value of respectful dialogue and interaction with people. Seeking out and maintaining mentors is an important part of growing as a person. Whether it’s in your spiritual life or professional life, we all can be made better through exposure to people who demonstrate success.
I’m a very inclusive leader. I actively try to create structures to engage as many people as possible in key decisions - to make sure that all perspectives are represented in decisions.
The people are so positive and aspirational. There’s a can-do spirit. I like the fact that the state is growing and wants to grow. That’s very exciting to me. But sometimes the traffic in Dallas is a little perplexing.
I had three pair of cowboy boots before I ever got the first call from Baylor Scott & White. I actually grew up riding horses. My uncle owned a riding stable. I wouldn’t call myself a cowboy, per se, but I do like horses, and have ridden quite a bit.
I’ve had one Tex-Mex meal, and at this point, I’m still leaning toward New Mexican food. But, I have an open and positive attitude. How’s that? I grew up on really hot, red and green chili in New Mexico. I’m just going to have to find something that’s as spicy as what I love.
I’m not going to say one or the other, because I think I’m very realistic and I’m very optimistic. That’s an easy one for me.
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