When you’re working actively to recruit for a busy healthcare organization, you need to fill positions quickly. Whether you’re replacing retiring nurses or you need to add new staff to meet higher demand due to the latest COVID-19 variant, time is of the essence.

Critical to your hiring strategy is an efficient background screening process. You need refined policies and processes to help you request background checks and get results without delay. However, as important as speed is to your hiring process, there are other important factors, such as accuracy, compliance, and comprehensiveness. You’ll need to balance all of these factors to fill open positions quickly and meet your goals for delivering excellent patient care.

The Importance of Turnaround Time in Background Screening

The time it takes to complete a background check is important to your organization, because it impacts your ability to keep the hiring process moving and get new hires on board promptly. In fact, the sooner you complete the background check process, the sooner you can start the onboarding process and get new hires on the payroll.

Although there are many critical steps in the healthcare hiring process, conducting a thorough background check—including an employment sanctions check and verification of licenses and other credentials—is something you can’t skip. Not only must your background check provider complete these checks with quality at the forefront, but they must do so quickly and in compliance with legal requirements set by agencies such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the U.S. Office of the Inspector General (OIG). Completing these processes quickly allows you to keep candidates engaged and prevent them from moving on to opportunities with other employers.

The Pros: When a Fast Background Check Makes Sense

According to LinkedIn research, the median time to hire healthcare employees is 40 days. However, if any part of the hiring process is delayed, the figure can easily grow to 50 days, 60 days, or longer. And with a longer time to hire, you can experience increased side effects that impact the frontline operations of your healthcare organization.

Conversely, when you operate a fast background check process, you can experience the following benefits:

  • Potentially shorter time to hire
  • A better candidate experience
  • A quicker path to onboarding and on-the-job productivity

The Cons: Risks of Prioritizing Speed Over Other Factors

As with any business-critical process, fast isn’t always better. When you make speed the top priority in your healthcare background check program, it can backfire. Not only do you risk operating a process that lacks accuracy, but you can increase the occurrence of errors in background check results, which can lengthen the process while you wait for those errors to be investigated and corrected.

Some of the cons of seeking a fast background check at the expense of other factors include the following:

  • A rushed background check can overlook key details in a person’s background, such as employment exclusions or missing credentials.
  • If your background check company rushes the screening process, you could experience errors and, as a result, lose out on a great candidate or hire one who poses a risk for your organization.
  • The screening process could erroneously fail to filter out details that should be omitted from a background check report, such as bankruptcies older than 10 years and arrest records older than seven years.

How to Get High-Quality and Accurate Background Checks, Fast

According to the 2021 PBSA annual employer survey, 58 percent said speed was the second-most important factor when considering a background screening provider. However, as proof that most companies don’t really want speed over accuracy, 83 percent of employers said quality and accuracy were the most important factors.

Thankfully, when you take the following actions, you don’t have to choose either speed or accuracy. You can have both.

1. Develop clear policies and processes for conducting background checks.

In today’s competitive healthcare job market, you need all the help you can get in achieving an efficient background check process and shorter time to hire. Fast background checks become possible when you have a clear, comprehensive screening policy and automated processes designed to maximize efficiency.

With processes such as paperless disclosure and authorization and bulk background check requests, you can eliminate time-wasting workflows and avoid feeling like you’re reinventing the wheel each time you encounter special cases or candidate disputes.

2. Find an optimal balance of turnaround time and accuracy.

Instead of falling for the promises of an “instant background check”—delivered quickly but only providing part of a candidate’s background—work with a screening provider who can offer industry-leading turnaround times while still delivering a comprehensive background check.

For example, you can expect your screening provider to offer the following capabilities:

  • A deep understanding of all key requirements necessary to produce a thorough healthcare background check
  • Proprietary screening technology customized to make your screening program more efficient
  • Built-in notifications alerting you to background check reports requiring immediate attention

3. Understand the factors affecting turnaround time delays.

Several internal and external factors affect the time it takes to complete a background check. By understanding them, you can develop processes to navigate delays more effectively. For example, by working with a screening provider who stays on top of federal and state court delays, you can understand potential locations where you are likely to have longer turnaround times, and you can notify candidates accordingly.

Other sources of background screening delays your background check provider can help you manage for greater efficiency include the following:

  • Incomplete candidate information
  • Manual workflows in the hiring and screening process
  • Late responses from employment and education verification sources

4. Work with a provider who combines expert analysis with innovative background screening technology.

Modern background screening technology enhances the background check process by making it more efficient, ultimately helping you to request background checks and get results faster. When combined with the expertise and judgment of background screening analysts, you can automate several steps of the background check process, from disclosure and authorization to drug screening and scheduling.

When working with a screening company offering the latest capabilities in background screening technology, you can take advantage of the following benefits:

  • ATS integrations, supporting quicker candidate data collection
  • Optional in-platform messaging, enabling direct communication with candidates and speedier collection of clarifying information
  • Efficient case views, allowing you to review background check results as soon as they become available

Make High-Quality, Fast Background Checks a Reality

Given all the factors affecting your ability to obtain high-quality, fast background checks, it’s not always clear which combination of actions will bring about the most dramatic improvement. But when you conduct a thorough review of your background screening program in partnership with your background screening provider, it is often easier to determine which steps to pursue and when.

An audit of your background screening program not only uncovers process inefficiencies that could be slowing down background check turnaround times, but it is also a great way to assess the overall health of your program and determine where you can implement new best practices. To get started, read the Guide to Auditing and Improving Your Background Screening Program.

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