HEALTHCARE ENTERPRISE: Kroll Offers Needed Background Screenings in Today’s Competitive Environment
Talk to 10 human resources professionals and they will easily come up with 10 different reasons why it’s important to conduct a background check on potential new employees. If those professionals are in the competitive arena of healthcare, that list of reasons gets even longer considering the industry’s concern for information security and patient safety.
“Different industries, particularly healthcare, have different kinds of sanctions so you want to make sure that someone is actually eligible to work in that particular industry,” said Jenifer DeLoach, senior vice president with Kroll Background Screening. In Nashville since 1995, Kroll has about 300 employees here who focus significantly on healthcare clients, both in acute care and long-term settings. Kroll Background Screening joined the HireRight family of companies about two years ago when Altegrity, a security and information technology company and parent company of HireRight, acquired Kroll Inc. HireRight’s companies serve more than 3,000 healthcare organizations across North America today.
DeLoach said the practice of background screening has evolved – and evolved rapidly – in the last few years, particularly as more data sources become available. Two decades ago, an HR department might have checked references and verified prior employment and called that a background check. “But climate changes, tone changes and more and more employers really felt the need to access publicly available information,” DeLoach said.
Today, Kroll’s standard service includes checking potential employees’ criminal backgrounds by accessing courts at the county, state and federal level. “Criminal records are indeed public, and the service that we provide is helping the employer navigate the channels, access the different courts and interpret the information,” DeLoach said. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act dictates how such information can be used as part of a hiring decision, she noted, and individual states have their own guidelines regarding reportability. For instance, reportability laws may vary when it comes to a nonconviction or for an offense that’s more than seven years old. “Part of the benefit of working with us is that we ensure that the information our clients receive when they’re making that decision on a public record is actionable and is reportable,” she said.
Kroll also recommends the screening of motor vehicle history, especially if the potential employee could be driving on behalf of the company. “A motor vehicle report can also reveal indicators of behavior,” DeLoach explained. “Is someone a habitual speeder? Do they pay their parking fines on time? Or, simply, are they eligible to drive?”
Information not in the public domain is employment and academic histories. Thus, Kroll obtains a signed release from every individual the company screens. “They understand as part of that document what we are going to search. That document is absolutely required, and it allows us to be able to access information on behalf of our clients,” said DeLoach, who dubbed an applicant’s signed release as his or her “truth serum.” Then Kroll’s verification specialists contact institutions to confirm information supplied by potential employees on resumes and applications.
“Once the process is over, the individual has a right to a copy of the report. They can ask for it from their potential employer, or they can contact us directly. It’s a very simple process, and they can see what was compiled on them. That’s part of our adherence to that Fair Credit Reporting Act,” DeLoach explained.
Kroll research reveals that typically a third of all resumes have a misstatement. “It could be very innocent; the longer your work history is, the harder it is sometimes to remember dates,” DeLoach said. Yet, particularly in these challenging economic times, applicants do occasionally succumb to pressure and embellish their employment histories and academic accomplishments, she said.
Becoming more standard in the industry are drug screenings, which DeLoach described as “a best practice from a workplace safety and security standpoint.” In fact, for some safety-sensitive positions, drug screening is required.
“Drug test results are really important in the healthcare space because employees are going to have access to medications in healthcare facilities,” she said. “People with drug habits apply to work in medical facilities. They just do. That’s where the drugs are, particularly in long-term care because you have a population of folks that may be sedated and may not be as aware.”
In healthcare, state-level requirements for provider employees differ, depending on the position and amount of patient contact. “It’s a patchwork quilt, so we actually have a team of people that follows and updates those regulations to make sure that different clients in different states and in different subsegments of the industry are following the right practices,” she said.
A standard screening ensures that applicants are properly licensed and credentialed. HireRight employs its trademarked Fraud and Abuse Control Information System (FACIS), a comprehensive database search of disciplinary actions taken by federal, state and more than 800 licensing and certification agencies in the 50 states. The screening includes adverse actions ranging from exclusions and debarments to probation and letters of reprimand. The three levels of searches cover more than 50 categories of U.S. healthcare professionals, ranging from physicians and midwives to professionals with home health agencies and ambulatory services.
In addition, Kroll scans the National Practitioner Databank, ensuring that applicants have no adverse actions filed against them. “This is a good supplement service for the full credentialing that we recommend on medical doctors,” DeLoach said.
When it comes to executive-level screening, Kroll looks into applicants’ fiduciary, credit and litigation histories and scours media coverage. “How do they make the paper and is it positive?” DeLoach said. “These are high-paid individuals leading the direction of the organization, and you want to make sure that the person not only represents himself or herself correctly in their qualification, but also that there are no surprises for someone that high profile.”
Finally, another core service of Kroll, DeLoach said, is employment eligibility verification, ensuring that individuals are legally in the country. “That’s some that happens typically post-hire, but we do have a very sophisticated tool that employers can use.” That tool ensures that employers are prepared for regulatory audits.
“Because we are a global company, we have folks coming in from all over the world,” DeLoach added. Therefore, Kroll is even prepared to verify equivalent degrees and work histories from other nations.