Bon Secours Mercy Health uses AI and automation to empower talent recruiters

The mission of Bon Secours Mercy Health, one of the largest health systems in the U.S., is to extend the compassionate ministry of Jesus by improving the health and well-being of its communities and bringing good hope to people in need.


To do that most effectively, the health system must be staffed properly with employees who thrive within the mission of service and share the passion to be a leader in delivering high-quality, compassionate healthcare, said Eric Van Duren, chief talent acquisition officer at Bon Secours Mercy Health.

McKinsey predicts by 2025, the United States could have a shortage of 450,000 nurses available for direct patient care.

“For those of us in healthcare HR with record-level open roles for nursing positions and beyond, we must act now,” Van Duren stated. “As I spoke about in a recent webinar, some industries are contracting and where skills are transferable to engaging with available talent.

“AI and automation allow recruiters to focus on recruiting talent by improving experiences, efficiencies and team dynamics,” he continued. “Oftentimes, talent acquisition teams can get bogged down with administrative tasks like scheduling interviews or reviewing resumes when they should be engaging with candidates and managers to qualitatively determine if there’s a match.”

With AI and automation, teams can flip the script and empower talent recruiters to focus on building relationships with candidates and walk alongside in their employment journey, he added.


Bon Secours Mercy Health’s goal is to build a respectful hiring process that engages candidates, drives down time-to-fill, and positions both the candidate and the ministry for success.

“For example, we’ve seen areas where it can take months to hire and we’re working to make it happen in as little as one week,” Van Duren said. “This is not reckless speed but speed that helps us respectfully engage with people, and with the flexibility to meet the needs of candidates and hiring managers and keep the quality of hire high.

“In our industry, these decisions impact patient care much more than they impact simply filling a role. It’s important not to lose sight of that.”

Eric Van Duren, Bon Secours Mercy Health

“We are in the midst of rolling out our Phenom Intelligent Talent Experience platform for AI and automation,” he noted. “With it, we will tap AI for the level of personalization that will create memorable moments for those who experience our hiring process.”

How people feel about their interactions with the health system’s ministry not only is important for hiring but for the patient experience, as well. A positive review about one can have a great influence on the other.

“For the candidates specifically, the level of personalization that AI can bring helps us to know them on a deeper level and is a pillar we are building around,” Van Duren said. “The more a candidate feels a personalized experience that flexes to their needs, the more meaningful interactions will be – whether or not they end up being hired into the job.”


Not only did Bon Secours need automation, it needed intelligence, as well. A deciding factor in selecting Phenom was the High-Volume Hiring system, because it met the health system’s needs to balance speed with quality.

“The system centers on intelligent automation to ease the application and hiring process for candidates and talent recruiters,” Van Duren explained. “We were impressed by how it transforms the time-consuming steps of vetting and scheduling into a personalized AI-led process that quickly qualifies job seekers by interest, location and qualifications.

“This inherently removes bias from the process, which ultimately creates a more meaningful and inclusive experience,” he added.

The system also has the capability to move candidates through to self-scheduled interviews or video-based Q&As, saving time.

“Better enabling us to scale and get creative with our processes because we have more time to focus on what matters – hiring passionate people to serve our patients and communities,” he said.


Bon Secours’ ministry works to provide healthcare and employment to the communities it serves. To do that more effectively, it is seeking flexibility, scalability and efficiency, and staff said they know AI and automation can help them do that.

“Our leadership team is excited to be able to deliver this win for our team as they make incredible things happen,” Van Duren reported. “The amount of heart and passion that our talent acquisition team has for their work and this implementation is impressive, and this is a testament to their commitment to grow as a team.

“We recognize the importance of our decision – not just about process efficiency, but about how it will help improve how we serve our patients and improve our communities,” he continued. “We’ll have successes and learnings, and we’ll adapt to continue creating meaningful experiences and improving processes with intelligence-based AI.”


“Be open to change, encourage a growth mindset and work with your internal teams to embrace new ways of thinking,” Van Duren advised. “Implementing new technology or processes could be intimidating – but it’s rewarding in ways you wouldn’t believe, including bringing more teamwork, innovation and bottom-line results.

“Seek partners, not vendors,” he continued. “To do it right, onboarding intelligence-based technologies like AI and automation requires a team with a unique skill set and one with the desire to deliver you a winning solution. That means collaboration, aligned incentives and mutual accountability.”

Think of AI and automation in HR as a business decision – it’s simply bigger than HR at this point, he added.

“In our industry, these decisions impact patient care much more than they impact simply filling a role,” he concluded. “It’s important not to lose sight of that.”

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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