Americans pay too much for health care, but providers can help reduce costs by meeting patient needs from diagnosis to treatment in an integrated system, said the newly named president of Baylor Scott & White Health in a telephone interview.

Eliminating the duplication of services and providing effective and timely care at an affordable price should always be health care providers' goal, said Pete McCanna, 56, who was named to fill Baylor Scott & White Health's new Office of the President by mid-September. He will live in Dallas and assist in steering an organization that has grown to $10.8 billion in assets and 48 hospitals, including Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center in Waco.

"The reputation of the leadership and caregivers at Baylor Scott & White is exceptional locally, statewide and nationally," McCanna said. "I will work for a person, Jim Hinton, who has a solid track record and really has put together all the pieces needed to satisfy patient wants and needs."

Hinton, who has been serving as both president and CEO since he joined Baylor Scott & White in January, hired McCanna. They previously worked together at Presbyterian Healthcare Services in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

McCanna serves as executive vice president and chief operating officer at Northwestern Memorial Healthcare based in Chicago. He has more than 30 years experience in health-care management and consulting, having also served as CFO at the University of Colorado Hospital in the Denver area, according to a press release from Baylor Scott & White.

During McCanna's 15-year tenure at Northwestern, the organization's operating revenue grew from $700 million to more than $5 billion, and it maintained its AA-plus bond rating, according to the press release.

"I made this move," Hinton said. "I consulted with the leadership, the board, and let them know what I was doing. But the hire was mine, and Pete will report directly to me."

Hinton said he is returning to the leadership model that existed just after the merger of Temple-based Scott & White and Dallas-based Baylor Health Care.

"Is this a two-person job? It's more like a 50-person job," Hinton said. "A lot of large organizations separate the chief executive from the system president. Traditionally, the CEO role is more external in nature, though I don't think anyone should assume that's how we will ultimately approach this."

He said Baylor Scott & White does not necessarily have "significant new priorities" but will emphasize digital connections with patients and preserve its large academic training centers in Dallas and Temple, and a smaller one in Fort Worth. He said McCanna is well equipped to help Baylor Scott & White meet demands associated with expansion.

"Pete is a highly respected senior executive with a track record of helping to grow organizations, create and implement successful, long-range strategic plans and lead financial turnarounds," Hinton said in the press release. "He is one of the best and brightest in health care."

Every health care system in the country is struggling with the uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act and attempts to repeal it, Hinton said by phone.

"Like everybody else, we have challenges to overcome. Our core business is definitely sustainable," he said. "We are working every day to build more value for the people we serve. We'd sure like to know what the rules are going to be for the rest of our careers, but unfortunately that's not going to happen.

"There is a lot of uncertainty out there, and uncertainty can translate into health systems slowing down investments. I do worry about $800 billion being cut from health care, as included in proposals coming out of the House and Senate."

McCanna, a Wisconsin native who received a master's degree from the University of Texas and a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan, said he looks forward to returning to the Lone Star State.

"I haven't yet started to work at Baylor Scott & White, so it's too early to comment on some aspects of the job," he said. "Obviously all the leaders, myself included, need to improve the value for patients and customers. I plan to get my feet on the ground and ask a lot of questions."

He said he started his health care career as a chief financial officer, but in the past 15 years has seen his role evolve to include other administrative functions.

He said a system that moves patients seamlessly from diagnosis to treatment and avoids "fragmented care" saves money and improves outcomes.

"I think it's been shown that a high variability in care leads to more errors and higher costs." McCanna said. "I also believe that many of the solutions we seek come from physicians and nurses."

Glenn Robinson, president of Baylor Scott & White Health's Waco facility, said he has not met McCanna but looks forward to an introduction.

"We're proud of the work Glenn does," Hinton said. "I don't know that this hire will have any direct impact on the operation there, but hopefully his area will benefit from the quality and consistency of services that we hope will accompany our systemwide growth."

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