5 Healthcare Talent Screening Best Practices
The healthcare industry is one of the most complex and highly regulated, which means employers have a greater responsibility to ensure a safe workplace environment not just for their own staff, but also for patients. The past decade has seen advancements in technology and best practices for the industry, with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) placing greater emphasis on quality of care and patient safety. Industry regulators have provided updated guidance and newer technologies have allowed leading organizations and systems to improve the efficiency of their screening efforts.
As you review your healthcare organization’s talent screening processes, consider the following key areas as you search for opportunities for improvement.
1. Monthly Exclusion Screening: The New Gold Standard
Healthcare exclusions are a key component of an organization’s talent screening and compliance program. “One thing to keep in mind is that a simple background check will not necessarily determine whether a person could be excluded,” Lauren Marziani, Senior Counsel at the OIG, stated during the Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA) 2017 Compliance Institute. Healthcare employers should screen at the time of hire and ask for employers or contractors to certify they are not excluded, according to Marziani. Additionally, the best practice and gold standard in the healthcare industry is to screen for exclusions on a monthly basis. This ongoing screening cadence was established by the OIG in their 2013 Special Advisory Bulletin on the effect of exclusions.
2. Automated Digital Healthcare License Monitoring
More than a quarter (27%) of healthcare organizations rely on spreadsheets to monitor their staffs’ professional licenses and certifications, according to the 2016 PreCheck Pulse: Healthcare Employment Screening Trends Report. While it can be an effective method when done right, it may not be the most efficient one and it can also be prone to human errors. In an era where healthcare HR has to collaborate across the continuum of care to meet the industry’s goals such as the Triple Aim, saving staff resources and time can make a significant impact in an organization’s bottom line. Newer technologies, such as PreCheck’s LicenseManager Pro healthcare license management system, can help HR departments better manage their staff’s professional licenses and certifications more efficiently while reducing errors and mitigating risk.
3. Thorough Random Drug Testing Programs
While many healthcare organizations conduct drug testing prior to employment, a random drug testing program has additional benefits for any employer. “Random or ‘spot’ drug testing works as a drug use deterrent because these programs are conducted in an unannounced and unpredictable manner,” Steve Beller comments in an article for Quest Diagnostic’s blog. Additionally, a random drug testing program can help provide a safer workplace with reduced accidents.
Unsurprisingly, regulators have taken notice of the benefits for random drug testing programs for the healthcare industry. In their 2014 OpEd Column for the New York Times, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) made their recommendations clear. “We believe hospitals should be required to perform random drug tests on all [healthcare] workers with access to drugs. These tests should be comprehensive enough to screen for fentanyl and other commonly abused drugs and must keep up with evolving drug abuse patterns,” Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson and Special Agent Erika T. Broadhurst state in the article.
4. Ongoing Screening: Annual Criminal Re-Checks
Most healthcare employers conduct background checks for pre-employment purposes, but many do not implement recurring screenings as part of their due diligence. As a best practice for healthcare organizations, PreCheck’s Vice President of Compliance, Vu Do, recommends conducting annual criminal re-checks in order to minimize the level of risk for both patients and staff. A background check, by its very nature, represents a snapshot in time. If you only conduct background checks on your staff before hiring, you could be incurring a significant level of risk for staff that have been part of your team for several years. Ongoing criminal checks are a good way to uncover issues and red flags before you find your healthcare organization in the evening news.
5. Streamlining I-9s with an Electronic System
The Form I-9 is a critical part of the hiring process that affects every employer, not just healthcare organizations. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) inspections are becoming more frequent and with more prevalent fines, as immigration attorney Nicole (“Nici”) A. Kersey discussed during a recent webinar on the new Form I-9. Good electronic I-9 systems can minimize an employer’s risk for paperwork violations, ensure that I-9s are not lost, include calendaring systems so that verification deadlines are not missed, provide a seamless integration with the E-Verify system, and will ensure data security. While an electronic system can streamline the Form I-9 process for your organization, a flawed system can actually increase risk for fines and I-9 violations. For electronic I-9 systems to work properly, implementation must be planned carefully to ensure the new process will satisfy the I-9 regulations.
As you review your healthcare organization’s talent screening initiatives, consider the previously mentioned best practices as you evaluate areas that could use improvement.