5 questions with Baylor Scott & White CEO Joel Allison on transitioning to a new role

As Joel Allison prepares to end an era of his healthcare career, he remains committed to his job and grateful for the support he's received.

Mr. Allison plans to transition from his current role as president and CEO of Dallas-based Baylor Scott & White Health to senior advisor to the chairman of the Baylor Scott & White Holdings Board of Trustees, effective Feb. 1, 2017.

Mr. Allison joined Dallas-based Baylor Health Care System as senior executive vice president and COO in 1993 and was promoted to president and CEO in 2000. He became CEO of Baylor Scott & White Health following the 2013 merger of Baylor Health Care System and Temple, Texas-based Scott & White Healthcare.

In his new role, he will advise the board chairman in the areas of advocacy, philanthropy and medical education.

During the Becker's Hospital Review 7th Annual Meeting this week in Chicago, Mr. Allison spoke with Becker's about this new role and the transition process.

Note: The following responses were lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: What challenges do you expect during the transition process?

Joel Allison: The challenge might be making sure I remain focused on continuing what I do as president and CEO of Baylor Scott & White Health. The transition doesn't take place until Feb. 1, 2017, so I want to very much stay focused on continuing to implement our strategies and work with our board and our team to continue moving forward.

Q: Have you encountered any challenges so far?

JA: Not really. Everyone has been so gracious and supportive. The transition I believe will almost be seamless because of the mission and vision of Baylor Scott & White Health, a great board, a wonderful executive team that I work with and then tremendous men and women throughout [the system]. What they focus on is coming every day with a sense of purpose and mission to care for patients. What I want to continue to emphasize is what we're really about is taking care of patients, no matter how big we get, no matter what other distractions might be out there. Our focus is still going to be taking care of patients. That's why I believe this will be a very seamless, smooth transition.

Q: What are you doing to ensure the transition process goes smoothly?

JA: I want to continue to ensure the team that this is going to move forward with a great deal of commitment to what our mission is, to our strategy. I intend over the coming months to get out to our different facilities across the system and just say "thank you" to the people for the tremendous service and continue to focus on the fact that we're here to take care of everyone. And we do it with the highest level of safe, quality, compassionate care, and that's where we are focused. It's always about the patient, so I'll have the pleasure of going around, seeing the people who make it happen each day.

Q: What will you do with your free time?

JA: As I've talked to some folks, and as you begin to prepare for that transition, the advice No. 1 is, do what you want to do. This is your opportunity and be sure you set priorities. I'll be visiting with my wife and talking about the real priorities. Part of my decision to transition had to do with [gaining] a little bit more free time to focus on the family. We’ve got six grandchildren that I truly want to spend time with, love and are growing. We have some free time, so how do we want to spend it? It's a little bit of an adventure.

Q: What is your hope for the system moving forward?

JA: I hope it never loses its focus on its mission of delivering the highest level of safe, quality, compassionate care to all patients as a Christian ministry of healing. What I have been doing has been my calling, it's been a passion, and I think the system is going to do very well as long as it continues to focus on that mission and what we call our four non-negotiables. We have a screen of questions we ask: Does this put the patient first? Secondly, is it true to our mission? Does it allow us to live our values? And then finally, is it the right thing for the right reason? If you take those four questions and say yes to each one, then I think you make good decisions.


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