For some time, there have been growing challenges in healthcare recruiting. Competition for scarce talent and increased demand for services have made it difficult for organizations to attract and hire sufficient levels of top talent. Despite the fact that, in recent years, the healthcare industry has become the largest US employer, statistics show that the healthcare talent shortage is only growing larger. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, by 2030, there will be fewer physicians than will be needed to provide care for an aging population. In addition, Mercer research has revealed that by 2025, there will be a nationwide shortage of 446,000 home health aides, 95,000 nursing assistants, and 99,000 medical and clinical laboratory technicians.

As the supply of healthcare talent dwindles, the demand for healthcare services is steadily growing, adding to health systems’ and hospitals’ need to hire more physicians, nurses, technicians, and other clinical staff. As large numbers of baby boomers continue to age, they are driving more demand for health services. That demand is further compounded by the fact that the Affordable Care Act has brought more than 20 million people into the healthcare system since it was enacted in 2010. 

Faced with the need to hire more talent, healthcare employers require solutions that will allow recruiting teams to effectively manage the talent pipeline and hire best-fit candidates in the most efficient manner possible.

The Downside of Poor Hiring Decisions

Not only is it necessary for healthcare employers to compete for talent and attract enough candidates to fill a growing number of open positions, but the quality of that talent must be strong as well. Hospitals and health systems can’t afford to make bad hires; the risk of doing so is too high. The negative effects of making a bad hire include:

Financial Liability

The healthcare industry is regulated by governmental agencies that dictate who may and may not work in a healthcare environment. Hospitals, health systems, and other medical employers can face fines and costly lawsuits if they are found to have employed individuals with revoked or suspended medical licenses, who have a criminal past, or who have been prohibited from working in healthcare. Organizations can even lose federal funding for employing individuals who have appeared on any of the federal exclusion and debarment lists.

Reputational Damage

Any healthcare organization understandably wants to be an employer of choice as well as a preferred provider among patients. When an employee is found to be unqualified for their role—or, worse, takes an action that leads to patient illness, injury, or death—there can be a ripple effect in the media that ultimately damages the organization’s reputation. It only takes one employee’s actions to cast a bad light on an entire health system, which makes thorough background screening critical to the hiring process. One psychiatric hospital made headlines when it was accused of conducting a poor background check on an employee who was later found to have abused hospital patients.

Risk of Losing Accreditation

Health service providers accredited by the Joint Commission must follow its guidelines for background checks, or risk losing accreditation. Though the Joint Commission does not dictate the specific tactics healthcare organizations must follow to be sure they’re conducting thorough background checks, it does set the expectation that the 22,000 healthcare organizations it accredits must follow federal and state background check laws as well as all internal policies.

Risk to Patient Safety

One study found that close to 10 percent of hospital deaths occur as a result of medical error. Although not all errors happen as the result of a hospital worker who has committed a crime or violated a policy, employers should still do everything possible to avoid hiring individuals who could cause harm to patients. Medical staff members who work under the influence of banned substances or who violate laws or company policies can cause accidents, misdiagnoses, or even patient death. 

Negative Impact on Company Culture

Making a bad hire can put a damper on teamwork, communication, and trust between coworkers, which ultimately hurts company culture. For example, hiring individuals who lack the necessary skills and qualifications can put a burden on others who must pick up the slack and make up for their deficiencies. Similarly, hiring someone who is a poor fit with the organizational vision and culture can create discord among team members and put coworkers at odds with one another.

Here are 10 ways healthcare organizations can ensure accurate and efficient  background screening programs.

How to Avoid Making a Bad Hire

It’s possible to make better hiring decisions with a proactive and thoughtful approach. By taking a range of actions and implementing some key safeguards, healthcare organizations can make better-informed hiring decisions. Here are some ways to accomplish this:

Tighten Background Screening

Making the right hiring decisions requires thorough background screening, including criminal history search, educational and employment verifications, and sanction checks. A reputable background screening company can review your existing background screening program and help you implement comprehensive healthcare background checks that will support better hiring decisions. Some of the healthcare-specific background screening services you should include are:

  • Professional license and certification verification
  • DHHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE) 
  • General Services Administration (GSA) List search
  • Nationwide Healthcare Fraud & Abuse search
  • National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) search
  • Global Sanctions & Watch List search
  • State-specific exclusion List search

Seek Opportunities to Automate 

Automation of key processes is one of the many ways to improve productivity in the hiring process. For example, an applicant tracking system (ATS) can help to organize large volumes of resumes and candidate details. Similarly, the background screening process can also be automated. By putting disclosure and authorization forms online and in a secure, FCRA-compliant format, you can eliminate manual processes and save time for recruiting professionals, freeing them up to spend more time sourcing and evaluating candidates.

Leverage Technology

Using the right technology solutions can improve efficiency, the candidate experience, and the time to hire. Whether you’re using an ATS to build a stronger talent pipeline or using a recruiting chatbot to more readily answer candidate questions, a great technology solution can put more time-saving resources into the hands of recruiters and candidates. Integrating technology platforms also increases productivity and efficiency. For example, a background screening platform that integrates with the ATS simplifies workflows and allows recruiters to keep better track of candidates from application to hire.

Hire for Culture Fit

Research by Robert Walters has found that 73 percent of professionals have left a job at some point in their career because they disliked the company culture. One great way to hire individuals who are a strong fit for your culture is to implement an employer branding strategy that targets candidates who align with your organizational values and culture. Hiring for cultural fit not only helps to identify those candidates who will support your culture, but it can also help to reduce turnover because you avoid hiring individuals who might ultimately leave because of a poor cultural fit.

Overcome Recruiting Challenges and Make Better Hires

It’s usually not difficult to identify great hires. They help to support team effectiveness, they are able to apply their knowledge and experience to the benefit of the organization, and others generally like working with them. On the flip side, bad hires can hurt team dynamics, poison the culture, and potentially create liability for the organization. By taking some proactive actions, including implementing effective background screening practices, you can avoid making bad hires and achieve positive effects for the organization’s overall reputation and bottom line. 


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