Dignity Health chief HR officer on system's plan to create a self-funded HR department

San Francisco-based Dignity Health Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Darryl Robinson spoke with Gallup about the health system's initiatives to increase its HR department's revenue without asking for a budget increase.

Mr. Robinson told Gallup that when he joined Dignity Health in 2013, the system's 40 hospitals each treated HR differently. He said, "There were 40 different ways — 40 different hiring processes, 40 different compensation processes, 40 different ways of learning, and so on."

Since his arrival, Dignity's HR team has continued to work on consolidating each hospital's hiring approach to create a more ubiquitous process systemwide.

"It's been very successful, not because of what I did, but because of what the entire HR team did, in conjunction with our operations leadership. It's really a team effort," Mr. Robinson said.

In late 2015 and early 2016, Mr. Robinson said the health system was challenged from a budgeting standpoint, like many other systems at the time. He said he began thinking of ways to monetize certain HR functions to bring in more revenue and self-fund some initiatives to eliminate having to ask to increase the department's operating budget year after year.

While the health system hasn't yet reached that level of independent functioning, Mr. Robinson said he can "envision a day when our HR team no longer asks for a budget increase, because our HR community has funded itself."

In addition to aligning each hospital's HR functions within the system, Mr. Robinson commented on the challenges of combining Dignity's various departments with those of Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives. The two systems announced their intent to merge last December.

"There is a lot of work ahead to bring our two ministries together. … We're going to have to align and integrate payroll, supply chain, IT, revenue cycle, finance, HR, marketing — you name it. How it comes together is through one of our values, collaboration, which is a big part of what we do here. We learn from each other and we support each other. But if we work together as a team in a collaborative way, it makes lots of things possible," Mr. Robinson said.

"Monetization is kind of cool, but at the end of the day, if we're able to allocate the dollars differently for the benefit of the patient, that's what we're all about," he added.

To access Mr. Robinson's full comments, click here.

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