Health Care Hiring Outlook and the Importance of Background Screening

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Recognizing the unique employment screening challenges in the health care industry, HireRight created the HireRight Health Care Spotlight to illustrate the common practices of leading health care organizations in addressing important issues relating to background checks and health screening.

The Spotlight is a summary of the 2011 HireRight Employment Screening Benchmarking Report, which included a survey of 245 respondents involved in human resources, talent management, recruiting, safety and security, and compliance in the health care industry. The report shows trends for employment screening and valuable best practices for strengthening a health care provider’s background screening program.

Of those responding to the survey, 75 percent work for organizations that provide direct patient care.  Of that 75 percent, 37 percent work in hospitals or acute care, 18 percent work in long-term care, and 12 percent are involved in ambulatory care. More than half of the respondents serve in an executive, directorial or management role.

Health care background screening challenges

Source: HireRight Health Care Spotlight

The Health Care Hiring Outlook
Nearly all respondents (93 percent) reported that they expected no decline in their workforce in the coming 12 months and 48 percent expected an increase in employment.

The top background screening challenges that were reported were reducing overall time-to-hire, completing employment verifications, tracking licenses and complying with background screening regulations.

Combining the need to hire with the top screening challenges reported by respondents, it is increasingly more important for health care organizations to evaluate and strengthen their employment screening programs.

The Importance of Background Screening
Respondents said their top reasons for conducting background screening include compliance with regulatory requirements (72%), protecting against negligent hiring risk (59%), improving the quality of hire (58%), and protecting their reputation (38%).

Based on HireRight’s experience, health care employers are risk adverse and appear to use employment screening to minimize the risk of non-compliance fines and penalties, lawsuits, effects of a bad hire and a tarnished brand. Employers should examine the most common and health care specific background checks available to mitigate these risks.

Based on the findings from the HireRight Health Care Spotlight, we’ll examine the three key hiring challenges respondents face and share some recommended common practices to help overcome them.

Challenge #1: Health Care-Specific Risks and Regulations
In comparison with other industries, the health care industry faces added compliance regulations when background screening and hiring workers. In health care, the traditional background screening best practices of non-health care organizations such as employment eligibility, work history, drug testing, criminal record history and background checks should be followed.

Health care organizations must also maintain compliance with mandates from regulating authorities such as The Joint Commission (TJC) and U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the General Inspector (OIG), or face time consuming audits, fines, and penalties.

Background screening also improves the quality of hires and reduces the risk of damaging incidences of abuse, negligence or fraud. In fact, according to the HireRight Health Care Spotlight, after compliance issues, the top three reasons that employers use screening are to protect against negligent hires, improve the quality of hires and protect the organization’s reputation.

How a Background Screening Provider Can Help: Working with a trusted background screening provider can help health care organizations build automated and comprehensive screening solutions that facilitate compliance and mitigate hiring risks. An on-demand employment screening solution can bundle dozens of background and health care sanction screening searches into one easy-to-use system. An automated screening solution also provides an accessible audit trail to simplify review preparation.

Challenge #2: Gaps in Federal Sanctions Data
To prevent Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse, the OIG prohibits health care organizations from hiring or doing business with previously sanctioned individuals. The OIG requires health care employers to screen workers and vendors annually against federal sanction lists.

Sanction lists, however, are not updated in real time. There can be critical delays between when an individual is sanctioned and when that information appears on a registry. Plus, more states are developing their own sanction registries. If an individual moves frequently, it’s difficult to know how many states to check.

Searching sanction lists is only one screening approach. A search limited to sanction lists will not uncover criminal and other adverse action information available through other sources. When it comes to relying only on sanction checking, screening gaps may result, leaving employers exposed to greater risk.

How a Background Screening Provider Can Help: Instead of relying solely on federal sanctions lists, seek an on-demand background and sanction screening solution that searches federal, state and national databases for positive matches related to criminal activity or sanctions and exclusions violations. This broader search helps to uncover the red flags in a person’s history.

Challenge #3: Human Error
Eighty two percent of health care survey respondents reported that they have had or know someone who has had an individual lie during a background check. When a screening program involves human resources personnel manually checking an individual’s background against dozens of outside sources, there is potential for falsified information and human error to pass unnoticed. A piece-meal, manual screening program may leave a health care organization exposed to the risk of poor hires and non-compliance issues.

How a Background Screening Provider Can Help: A centralized, automated screening solution can help reduce the chance of human error by running comprehensive identity and background searches simultaneously. The system also helps reduce human error by alerting personnel to any incomplete results or missed compliance requirements.

Free Report: HireRight Health Care Spotlight
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Learn the employment background checking best practices of leading health care organizations by downloading:

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HireRight

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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