The TV mounted to the wall blared a home and garden show so loudly that nurses calling to waiting patients had to raise their voices. A mother soothed a crying infant while ringing telephones added to the cacophony of noise. Bill Dinger, who had finally landed an appointment after weeks of waiting, eyed the phone behind the counter. The busy receptionist walked away, oblivious to the incoming calls and the needs of the patients on the other end of the line.
Dinger took a deep breath in an attempt to remain calm. He had received a fairly serious diagnosis from a doctor who immediately handed him off to a nurse, giving little instruction for how to check in, follow up, or receive detailed information. He was worried. He was feeling ignored. And as someone working in healthcare, he was angry. For the first time, Dinger understood what it was like to receive poor care—and the experience birthed in him a passion for quality.
That was twenty years ago. Today, Dinger is the vice president of caregiver benefits and well-being at Providence, a nonprofit, Catholic health system of fifty-two hospitals and over a thousand physician clinics, senior services, and other health and educational services across seven states. He’s been in this key role since early 2021, and he keeps his personal experience in receiving care at the forefront of his mind as he analyzes existing policies and programs and considers improvements that will impact the 120,000 caregivers that form the Providence team.
Providence by the Numbers
Community Benefit: $1.7 billion
Total Patient Visits: 25.6 million
Covered Lives: 2.1 million
Health Plans: 1
“Our caregivers are the cornerstone,” he says. “Our top priority is to take care of them, because we know that when we do that, it will impact them, their families, and the quality of care they offer to our patients and the community as a whole.”
Dinger is also importing experiences and lessons learned in other roles and industries to help him thrive at Providence. After his dreams of playing professional hockey never materialized, he went into public accounting, earned a CPA license, and started completing SEC filings for large public corporations. Although Dinger was a skilled accountant, he quickly grew tired of the rote, monotonous work that lacked innovation and creativity.
A quest for purpose took Dinger back to school. He enrolled at the Crummer Graduate School of Business and finished an MBA program at Rollins College. There, he learned new business skills he applied as a finance director at Rotech Healthcare. Dinger was building the durable medical equipment company’s inventory system, running financial operations, and helping the CFO find new strategies to drive value. In doing so, he was identifying problems and uncovering solutions in the healthcare field. Dinger had found a home in a new industry.
This realization coincided with his negative experience in the hospital waiting room and sparked a new era in his career. He started consulting and building himself a reputation as the go-to finance guy for healthcare companies. Soon, the Walt Disney Company came calling.
Disney’s benefits leaders faced an interesting dilemma. The company was one of Florida’s biggest employers and had a large population of employees working odd hours at parks and resorts. Those employees often lacked access to healthcare. Dinger worked with project managers and industrial engineers to find a unique solution. He joined a team that was tasked with coming up with something truly innovative in an on-site health center where Disney “cast members” and their families could receive a full suite of medical services.
The team pitched the idea to Disney’s senior leaders, secured approval, commissioned design work, and managed the construction of what became known as the Center for Living Well. The 15,000-square-foot property is the largest employer-operated medical facility in the nation.
Putting a permanent, state-of-the-art medical facility in the Epcot parking lot was no small feat, but Dinger wasn’t satisfied once its doors were open. “We had an amazing building, but amazing buildings are nothing without quality clinicians, and I’ve focused on quality throughout my whole career,” he says.
Dinger and Disney worked out in the community to form strong partnerships with local hospitals and health systems. They eventually chose Premise Health systems to staff the center, which now completes more than fifty thousand primary care, radiology, wellness, behavioral health, and pharmacy visits each year. The project was so well received that Disney later opened a second Center for Living Well for its employees in Celebration, Florida.
Dinger then took a full-time role as director of healthcare innovation at Disney. During his tenure, he drove innovative solutions for two hundred thousand employees and implemented practices designed to reduce waste and increase quality, with a focus on diabetic and hypertensive patient conditions. In 2019, those efforts were recognized with the Employer/Purchaser Excellence Award from the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalition for Disney’s efforts to improve the quality and efficiency of the healthcare delivery system.
For someone dedicated to quality and innovation in healthcare, the work is never done. After nearly a decade with Disney, Dinger was ready for a new challenge, and in early 2021 accepted his current role. He says Providence’s mission made the organization an ideal fit. “Part of the Providence promise is ‘know me, care for me, ease my way,’” he says. “I wanted to be a part of finding innovative ways to fulfill that commitment we make not only to our patients but also to our caregivers and our communities.”
Providence traces its roots to 1856, when Mother Joseph partnered with four other Sisters to establish a network of hospitals and schools in the Pacific Northwest. Today, it serves Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. In recent years, the system has grown, more than doubling its workforce over the last decade.
Dinger joined a growing health system and a growing workforce struggling to navigate an ongoing global health crisis—something his colleagues outside the system recognize. “Bill joined Providence at a critical time, and his commitment to quality aligns with HealthEquity’s commitment to Providence’s caregivers,” says Steve Neeleman, MD, founder and vice chair of HealthEquity. “We congratulate him on his success to date, and we look forward to our ongoing partnership.”
Dinger has spent the last year meeting with caregivers, managers, administrators, board members, and community leaders to assess how to ensure that the Providence family of organizations continue to provide a suite of competitive benefits for its caregivers. He’s slowly, carefully, and methodically building a strategy to integrate all benefits functions, engage caregivers, and take Providence’s benefits to the next level. As those strategies develop, Dinger is focused on completing a new Oracle implementation and building key partnerships to ensure long-term success.
“Bill is an innovator in delivering a data-driven, personalized health navigation experience for Providence employees,” says Todd Everett, regional director at Castlight Health. “Bill understands that helping frontline caregivers take care of their own health and well-being has a direct correlation to delivering a quality experience for the patients they care for.”
On January 20, 2020, Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington, treated the first known US COVID-19 patient. The system’s caregivers have been on the front lines of battling the virus ever since. They’ve faced PPE shortages and dying patients. They’ve sacrificed time with family and dealt with concerns related to their own health. They’ve even encountered hostile reactions and individuals who refuse to follow medical advice.
“I have nothing but admiration for our entire staff. They’ve been through a lot, and they’re tired. That means we need to treat them right,” Dinger says. He’s joined his CNO and behavioral health CMO to form a team to steward Providence’s No One Cares Alone program, which gives employees access to free sessions with mental health experts, behavioral health specialists, and chaplains.
This year, Providence plans to roll out a new peer-to-peer counseling program to give caregivers additional opportunities to help each other deal with burnout and other issues related to the ongoing pandemic.
“Bill’s thoughtful and innovative focus on creating programs that improve the quality of Providence caregivers’ professional lives will not only benefit them directly—the ripple effects will enrich patient experiences in California’s healthcare system,” says Marilyn Dekeyzer, area vice president of Premier Accounts, Blue Shield of California, who manages the Providence employer account.
The industry is changing, and Providence is growing. Against this backdrop, Dinger is working with his counterparts in the organization to rethink workforce development and expand the talent ecosystem. The efforts will equip caregivers to meet the challenges of today and prepare them for what lies ahead in the future of healthcare.
Providence Health Plan congratulates William Dinger, VP of benefits for Providence St. Joseph Health, for being an outstanding strategic partner. We commend William for his ongoing dedication and commitment to overseeing the high-quality benefits that are available to caregivers and their dependents.
Castlight Health is proud to support Bill Dinger and Providence as they embrace data-driven navigation to ensure employees get the health and wellbeing care they need, at the right time. We believe Bill’s strategic vision and use of data-driven insights to continually deliver quality care and outcomes at Providence is core to value-driven care. With a comprehensive view of the needs of their entire population, Providence continues to set the bar high, meeting their employees where they are, for optimal health and wellbeing.
Healthcare is faced with many challenges today: burnout, turnover, COVID-19 and adapting to the new shape of work. Mercer’s expertise in workforce planning and management, and employee rewards helps provider organizations proactively address these issues. Mercer is proud to support Providence to ensure they continue to lead the industry.
Congratulations Bill Dinger and Providence St. Joseph Health (PSJH) for the well-deserved recognition you are receiving. Securian Financial is proud of its strong relationship with PSJH and looks forward to continuing to provide relevant financial solutions.
Sedgwick is a leading global provider of technology-enabled risk, benefits and integrated business solutions. At Sedgwick, caring counts; we take care of people and organizations by mitigating and reducing risks and losses, promoting health and productivity, protecting brands, and containing costs. As a proud partner of Providence, we thank Bill Dinger for his leadership.
Willis Towers Watson: “Working closely with Bill, we’ve been impressed by his passion for providing caregivers with the benefits they value as affordably as possible. As a leader he supports initiatives that stretch current thinking and encourage innovation. It’s a privilege and a pleasure to partner with him in these efforts.” – Jane Jensen, Senior Consulting Actuary