Baylor Scott & White Health on Monday announced that Jim Hinton, currently the leader of New Mexico’s largest health system, will become CEO in 2017 after longtime chief executive Joel Allison steps down.
Hinton, 57, is CEO of Presbyterian Healthcare Services, an eight-hospital system based in Albuquerque with 10,000 employees and an affiliated physician group of more than 850 providers. He will resign from that role and begin in Dallas on Jan. 16, 2017. Hinton has been that system’s top executive since 1995, and helped grow it into the state’s largest in part by establishing that physician group and a health plan, which now covers about 470,000 lives. He was an early champion of a shift from reimbursing doctors for visits into one that pays for patient outcomes. Under his watch, the Presbyterian Health Plan of New Mexico was one of President Barack Obama’s “Pioneer” accountable care organizations, the first 32 to participate in Medicare’s then-new value-based payment model.
“I see some opportunities to introduce some of the population health approaches that we have applied here in New Mexico into a very different market,” Hinton said in an interview. “It is, in many respects, a more vibrant market, but one that has many of the same requirements that our market had here in New Mexico, and that is to deliver high quality, accessible care at the lowest possible cost.”
Hinton will be in charge of a much larger system in Baylor Scott & White, one that includes 47 hospitals and more than 1,000 clinics and outpatient centers across a distance of 250 miles. He also succeeds the revered Allison, who is the only chief executive the system has ever known. Dallas’ Baylor and Temple’s Scott & White merged in 2013, and it remains one of Allison’s most treasured achievements.
The Dallas system now records total assets of more than $9 billion and has 40,000 employees. For years leading up to the merger, Allison maintained that growing the system would be key to succeeding on its population health strategy—more care sites means more chances to track patients across the care continuum, from primary visits to hospitalizations. A chat over breakfast with former Scott & White CEO Dr. Robert Pryor bloomed into the deal, which Baylor maintains has saved $90 million by excising duplicative processes. And it also helped grow the system’s accountable care organization, the Quality Alliance, by expanding into a new geographic region. Today, about 317,000 covered lives in North and Central Texas are managed in a way that pays doctors for outcomes instead of volume.
Hinton has had his own success in the insurance field. This year, Presbyterian Health Plan of New Mexico won a contract to provide Medicaid managed care services to 11 health systems in North Carolina. The deal added around 600 jobs and a $20 million addition to the corporate headquarters to house them, according to news reports. In New Mexico, about 30 percent of the state’s Medicaid beneficiaries are managed by Presbyterian.
Hinton and Allison’s paths have many similarities. In the mid-’90s, both men saw to the creation of physician groups that have grown into networks with nearly 1,000 providers. Both have pushed for initiatives within the system to treat patients outside of hospitals and follow them into their communities. Hinton has instituted a program where patients with chronic conditions can be managed in their homes. Presbyterian patients can access their health records from a smart phone, from which they can also make appointments and order lab results. The hospital system uses telemedicine consultations when necessary, and established a triage system in the emergency department that sent people to lower-acuity settings for conditions that could be treated elsewhere. To do so, the health plan had to tinker with the billing codes so the physicians could be paid.
“Most of healthcare in America is pretty tightly aligned with a set of billing codes that if you don’t do the work and code it correctly, you don’t get paid,” Hinton said. “Obviously what it takes to treat patients sometimes doesn’t conform directly to that. So changing the compensation models for our physicians has been one of the key parts.”
This was the message that Hinton took before the Baylor Scott & White Board in a series of interviews that began last July. Allison announced his plans to step down in March and become an advisor to the board chair next year. He’ll also stick around to help Hinton learn his way around the operations. Jim Turner, the board chair, told the system’s philanthropic foundation in May that he hoped to have a successor in place by October. The Atlanta-based executive recruiting firm Witt/Kiefer was hired to find one, and returned with dozens of potential internal and external applicants. Baylor Scott & White declined to reveal exactly how many were considered for the job.
Turner was traveling and unavailable to talk on Monday morning, but the release announcing the hire included the following quote attributed to him: “During this time of incredible change in healthcare, Jim [Hinton] brings exceptional experience that will help move us into the future. He is one of the few health system leaders in the country who has successfully navigated an organization from a focus on volume to a focus on value; and beyond his impressive accomplishments, those he leads are quick to say he is best known for promoting a caring culture.”
Hinton said that while the board hasn’t given him specific goals, it has requested that he “take the experiences of New Mexico and apply them in Texas on this value journey.” He said he’ll meet with affiliated clinicians to gauge their feelings regarding value-based incentives and how Baylor Scott & White can better support them. He also didn’t rule out expanding into new markets, saying that the system, under his leadership, will “explore markets where the Baylor Scott & White model may complement existing healthcare services.” He noted how competitive the Texas marketplace is for healthcare and the need to differentiate from competitors.
One way to accomplish that, Hinton said, is through research. He will inherit a formal research consortium that was established earlier this year between the Baylor Scott & White Research Institute and Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine. “There’s so much growth in Texas right now. There’s a lot of opportunity for all health systems to grow within the state, just based on people coming into Texas for the various economic opportunities,” Hinton said. “I’m learning the health systems in Texas are not standing still and people are taking advantage of the growth.”
Hinton was chairman of the American Hospital Association from 2014 until 2015 and served on its board for four years prior to that. He’s been named one of Modern Healthcare’s 100 most influential people in healthcare and has earned similar accolades from Becker’s Hospital Review and other trade publications. He has a master’s degree in healthcare administration from Arizona State University and a bachelor’s in economics from the University of Arizona. He’s spent his entire career with Presbyterian.