AHA Chairman Hinton is ready to take on health care's next curve

AHA News

Presbyterian Healthcare Services President and CEO James H. Hinton has played a significant role in building his organization’s integrated delivery system. As AHA chairman, he believes his experience with value-driven care can help AHA members navigate the rapidly changing health care landscape.

“The AHA is certainly not prescribing that everyone has to be an integrated financing and delivery system,” he says. “But there are elements of those models that we believe all systems, all hospitals should look at.”

Hinton became AHA chairman on Jan. 1, succeeding Benjamin Chu, M.D., group president of Southern California and Hawaii for Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan in Pasadena, CA.

He leads New Mexico’s only not-for-profit health system. The Albuquerque-based system includes eight hospitals, a statewide health plan and a growing multi-specialty medical group. Presbyterian also is the state’s second largest private employer with more than 9,600 employees.

Hinton believes value-based payment and accountable care structures – coupled with reliable data – enable hospitals to deliver better patient care at lower cost. More than 60% of Presbyterian’s revenues are pre-paid or capitated.

“I’ve had the privilege of observing and being involved in and more recently leading our effort to grow this integrated model,” says Hinton, who joined Presbyterian in 1983 and became its president and CEO in 1995. “One of my goals [as AHA chairman] is to help dispel some of the myths about what it means to be in the insurance business.”

Unlike Presbyterian, most hospitals are still entrenched in the fee-for-service world. And as long as that’s the case, Hinton says the AHA must keep fighting for fair hospital payments, while providing the resources and support that can help them make the transition to a more performance-driven future.

He says the current system drowns hospitals in paperwork and forces them to dedicate precious resources to comply with a morass of federal regulatory requirements. “What if we could apply all those resources that are going to compliance officers and attorneys and auditors to delivering health care?” he asks. “That is the opportunity.”

Hinton last year served as chairman of the AHA’s Committee on Research. Each year the committee examines in-depth a topic that presents one of the most pressing health care challenges of the day. The 2013 research has produced a report, “Your Hospital’s Path to the Second Curve: Integration and Transformation.” The report is set to be released next week.

Hinton says one of the report’s key takeaways is that “no matter how advanced you are you can’t stand still. There is no benefit in resting because things continue to change dramatically. Through
the report, we’ve taken the status quo off the table for everybody.”

Another key message is that hospitals are starting their pathway to the second curve at different places with different core competencies and demographics. “There is no one common starting point,” he says. “The issue here is to get people started.”

In the coming years, Hinton observes that the image of a hospital will be less about four walls and more about partnerships that advance the health of individuals and communities. He encourages hospital and system leaders to engage in frank discussions with their community members about how they can serve them better. “We have to make sure our members are listening to what is being said,” he says. “There is lot to be proud of and there is a lot to change.”

Hinton says he is fortunate to serve as AHA chairman during what he calls the most exciting time in Ameri...

Topic: Advocacy and Public Policy

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