We know that quality of patient care is highly dependent on the performance of a hospital’s staff members. Not only can a bad hire be detrimental to patient safety, but it can also affect a hospital’s reputation as well. That’s why recruiting and screening for the most qualified talent is more critical than ever in 2014 and beyond. The following are four recommended “do’s and don’ts” to ensure that your organization is running the right types of background checks while keeping your hiring process efficient.

1. Do follow the law and any federal guidance. Check state-level legislation for restrictions.

Familiarize yourself with your duties as an employer per the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a federal consumer protection statute that regulates the screening process. There’s been a spike in FCRA litigation this year, so it’s critical that your background screening process follows FCRA guidelines.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Enforcement Guidance on employers’ use of criminal conviction records is another item you should be familiar with. Under the guidance, for example, employers should conduct individualized assessments on candidates with a criminal background.

Finally, check whether your state has any restrictions regarding background checks. For example, several states and cities have recently passed “Ban the Box” legislation, which prohibits employers from asking candidates to disclose whether they have a criminal history on job applications. While not exhaustive, these are just a few areas to look out for.

2. Don’t underestimate the importance of comprehensive background checks. Run more checks than required for compliance.

In healthcare, much of the current legislation requires fingerprint-based background checks through the FBI’s database. If your healthcare organization solely relies on the FBI’s database, however, you could be placing your organization under considerable risk. According to a 2013 article published in The Washington Post, roughly half of the FBI’s database is either incomplete or inaccurate. That’s why it’s important to conduct state-level and county-level criminal record searches as part of your background screening process. Additionally, if you participate in federal healthcare programs such as Medicare, it’s important to screen against the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE) and the 34 publically available State Medicaid Exclusion Lists to avoid Civil Monetary Penalties (CMP’s).

3. Don’t forget to conduct ongoing screenings. Running background checks only at time of hire is not enough.

Background checks represent a snapshot in time, so it’s possible for candidates with a clear background check at time of hire to have criminal history years later. Lawmakers have recognized this issue, and some healthcare-specific background check legislation includes requirements regarding the frequency of screenings. For exclusion screening specifically, for example, the OIG issued a Special Advisory Bulletin in 2013 calling for monthly exclusion screening. Some healthcare employers conduct background checks on their staff on an annual or biannual basis to safeguard their patients and staff.

4. Do integrate your background checks with an applicant tracking system (ATS). Streamline your hiring processes.

In the competitive healthcare environment, the last thing you want is your background checks to hinder the candidate experience and to lengthen your hiring process. Integrating your background check service with an ATS can be beneficial for both recruiters as well as candidates. Through the ATS integration, recruiters can manage everything in one place including the background report information and candidates can complete the background check authorization as part of the application process, for example. Integrating background checks with your ATS can save your recruiters time and improve the overall experience for candidates.

Are you interested in learning more about how you can improve the candidate experience at your healthcare organization? Download our white paper: Improving the Candidate Experience: 5 Best Practices for Healthcare HR for additional tips and strategies.

About Bryan Barajas

Bryan Barajas is the Marketing Director at PreCheck — a HealthcareSource Certified Integration Partner. PreCheck has helped healthcare employers improve patient safety through comprehensive background screening and employment qualification services since 1993. PreCheck offers a full suite of background screening, compliance, and credentialing solutions designed to help healthcare organizations adhere to the complex regulations governing the industry.