Typically, when the CEO title precedes a hospital leader’s name, it’s accompanied by the word president.That’s not the case anymore at the largest nonprofit health system in Texas.
Baylor Scott & White Health President and CEO Jim Hinton announced last week that he is splitting the health system's top leadership position into two parts. With that, he is creating a new Office of the President and transitioning some responsibilities to the newest member of the organization's C-suite.
Hinton — a former chairman of the American Hospital Association, who joined BS&W in January after steering Presbyterian Healthcare Services in New Mexico for more than 20 years — has no qualms about relinquishing control, or losing a word in his title.
“There's a lot of work to be done here and I think titles are actually more important externally to people than they tend to be internally,” he told me Friday. “If you look at a sports team, an orchestra, any aggregation of people focused on a goal, there are people who sit in chairs closest to the conductor, and there are people who sit in spaces farther from the conductor, but the band doesn't produce music without everybody working together.”
BS&W has hired Pete McCanna as the new leader of its Office of the President, starting in September. McCanna comes to Texas by way of Northwestern Memorial Healthcare in Chicago, where he works as executive vice president and chief operating officer. He also previously served as chief financial officer at both the University of Colorado Hospital and Presbyterian, where he worked with Hinton for four years.
Hinton said it’s yet to be determined which duties will be transferred to McCanna. But in creating the new office, his main focus was attracting top talent like McCanna, and then sorting out the particulars at a later date. One of Hinton’s favorite books is the noted leadership tome Good to Great — Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don't by Jim Collins, which encourages leaders to figure out the “who” before the “what.”
“This move with Pete is the who,” Hinton said. “Pete has a great reputation and is one of the best thinkers in the field. He's got a track record of success. He wants to be in Texas and he wants to be part of Baylor Scott & White. So, this is really about adding Pete to the team and then we will determine who does what.”
BS&W’s chief also could not say whether taking responsibilities off his plate would allow him to focus on any one particular area of interest. Reading between the lines, growing his organization’s health plan may be one key consideration. At Presbyterian, a “model statewide integrated delivery network,” as noted in the announcement of Hinton’s hire last year, the former CEO helped to grow that system plan to more than 470,000 covered lives. Before its merger with Baylor, Scott & White had its own health plan, and Hinton said that, as part of the merged system, “that will be an area that I’ll be working with others in the team to determine the path forward for the health plan and what role it will play.”
In an interview with the Dallas Morning News in April, Hinton also signaled that addressing the large number of Texans without coverage is critical [the Lone Star State did not expand Medicaid, as legislators did in New Mexico]. “I think [what] is important is that we never act like it’s OK for Texas to have such a high rate of uninsured,” he told the newspaper. “Our mission is to take care of all people, and we’re going to do it regardless of their ability to pay.”
Are there any lessons that other CEOs can take from this leadership move at BS&W? And does Hinton anticipate this becoming a greater trend as navigating change in health care grows increasingly difficult? He said it depends on the circumstances at your own individual system, and there really is “no cookie-cutter approach to structuring a senior leadership team.”
However, Hinton encouraged his CEO peers, when navigating this uncertainty, to ask themselves what the “no-regret strategies” are, which is how he labels this decision. “In this era, where there’s so much competition for great people, creating an environment where you attract and retain great people is an important part of the CEO’s job.”
Hinton believes that the smart chief executives won’t have any issue asking for help and delegating duties. “I think most successful CEOs inherently understand that,” he said. “You can't throw the pass and be the receiver at the same time. You can't throw a pass and block the oncoming defensive lineman, and most quarterbacks don't kick the extra points. You've got to have people in skilled positions who lead, but it's more of a team sport than it's ever been.”