4 Stages of Background Screening Success in the Health Care Industry

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Healthcare employment background checks

Health care providers must comply with the requirements of government and other organizations designed to protect patients and the public. Examples of these organizations include the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG), the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) and the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).

Their requirements include verifying the credentials of professionals, investigating employees participating in federal programs, and searching for potential criminal histories. In addition to meeting these compliance requirements, it’s prudent that healthcare organizations conduct additional pre-employment and ongoing background checks to help protect against potential litigation and reduce liability.

A comprehensive screening program helps to demonstrate due diligence and may insulate an employer from a host of potential problems. For example, employers who screen their workforce for a history of criminal activity may be afforded certain protections from accusations of negligent hiring or retention.

Health care organizations that implement the following four-stage approach to background screening can experience better screening results, more efficient processes and faster hiring cycles.

Stage One: Eliminate Candidates Who Do Not Meet Basic Criteria
Basic screening should be conducted on all employees, including those in entry-level positions, to quickly and cost-effectively eliminate unqualified or ineligible candidates.

A way to begin stage one would be to determine if an individual has been excluded from receiving government funds or participating in government contracts by the General Services Administration (GSA). It is also important to examine an applicant’s Social Security Number (SSN) to confirm the number is in a valid range. These basic background checks serve as the foundation for more comprehensive checks in later stages and are recommended for stage one.

Stage Two: Expand Screening and Learn More about a Candidate
After basic screening is completed in stage one, an employer should broaden the information they have available using additional targeted searches.

Some of the additions may include a confirmation of the professional credentials of any hire and a check for any disciplinary actions including exclusions, debarments, probation, and letters of reprimand. Also, be sure to check for civil judgmentsfederal or state convictions, actions by federal or state agencies, exclusions and other adjudicated actions.

Stage Three: Perform Drug and Health Screening
Screens involving medical information should be conducted after a conditional job offer has been extended to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

For employers with Drug-Free Workplace programs, a pre-employment drug test is recommended on all employees. For an extra level of protection from professional claimants, employers can search workers’ compensation reports before making a final hiring decision.

Stage Four: Use Ongoing Screening 
Once an employee is hired, screening shouldn’t end. Consider re-screening employees on a regular interval that makes sense for your organization.

This can be done by implementing a random drug test to support Drug-Free Workplace programs, or updating driving history information by obtaining a current motor vehicle record. Additionally, a criminal search can be performed to review any changes that may have taken place.

Applying the Four Stage Approach
It is important to work with a background screening partner who is experienced with the unique requirements of the health care industry and who has the ability to help identify and close the gaps that may exist in an organization’s screening policies. HireRight can help health care organizations enhance their screening programs based upon individual company needs or specific job category requirements.

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HireRight is a leading provider of on-demand employment background checks, drug and health screening, and electronic Form I-9 and E-Verify solutions that help employers automate, manage and control background screening and related programs.

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