Healthcare background screening tech & staffing shortages

Val Poltorak of Healthcare & Life Sciences Group of Sterling, discusses how advanced healthcare background screening technology can ease staffing shortages

Val Poltorak, General Manager of Healthcare and Life Sciences Group of Sterling, knows that healthcare staffing shortages have been a reality for years, only to have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, an aging population, the Great Resignation, and societal shifts to Gig models of work. A recent analysis conducted by Mercer found that there will be an expected critical shortage of 3.2mn healthcare workers by 2026, namely in hospitals and health systems.

During a recent webinar hosted by Sterling, a leader in background and identity solutions, a speaker from Sanford Health stated: “Whoever gets to the talent fastest, gets the talent.” The length and efficiency of the hiring process can be the deciding factor between a candidate accepting an offer with your or another organisation. However, healthcare organisations have the responsibility to recruit and onboard candidates not only quickly, but safely. 

Consider these three steps for leveraging advanced healthcare background screening technology to mitigate staffing shortages. 

1. Getting creative with growing your healthcare talent pool 

Healthcare workers have felt firsthand the impacts of the pandemic, ranging from the emotional challenges of the profession to burnout due to heavy workloads. This has caused many to reconsider their career in the healthcare industry. A new poll from the Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation found that roughly three in ten healthcare workers have considered leaving their profession. 

The growing demand for healthcare workers continues to increase while recruiting them has become more difficult. There are a few creative strategies HR teams should consider to further expand their talent pool, such as recruiting from other countries, boosting their social media recruitment strategies, and even developing their own internal staffing agency for additional staffing support, similar to what UPMC has done. 

Advanced healthcare background screening technology can also play a critical role in supporting an organisation's candidate pool by improving the speed and quality of a candidate’s background screening experience. By removing unneeded friction in the hiring process with technology-enabled screening services, HR teams can reduce the complexity of the hiring process and simplify background screening for faster turnaround times. 

2. Streamline onboarding using technology and new workflows   

A recent Forrester Consulting study commissioned by Sterling surveyed 157 HR healthcare decision-makers and found that many saw an opportunity to improve their screening, onboarding, and retention processes by investing in technology. Citing the survey: "Healthcare hiring professionals say they are least satisfied with technologies supporting candidate screening and onboarding (24%) as well as employee retention (26%).”  

Making a positive first impression during the recruiting, screening and onboarding process can impact a candidate’s first experience in an organisation. How can new technology and streamlining workflows support this? 

Integrating advanced healthcare background screening technology into an organisation's existing applicant tracking system (ATS) can enable teams to continue using current programmes they're already familiar with and prevent any disruption in their day-to-day work. By creating custom, automated workflows through an organisation’s ATS, health systems can reduce the time to initiate background checks, streamline credentialing verifications, and enable HR teams to make more informed decisions around hiring candidates. 

3. Maintaining a compliant hiring programme

The hiring requirements in the healthcare industry are unique and complex, needing to comply with extensive laws and regulations. With some health systems operating across multiple states, recruiting internationally, or even undergoing mergers and acquisitions (M&A), staying up to date on the latest regulatory requirements is often time-consuming and impractical for an in-house HR department. 

Leveraging background screening technology that offers healthcare-specific solutions can simplify managing healthcare requirements around hiring, credentialing, and monitoring. Working with a partner familiar with how healthcare systems operate can also provide the expertise needed to navigate Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requirements, federal, state, and local regulations, as well as requirements from accredited bodies. 

Besides staying ahead of ever-changing regulations, healthcare organisations expect to receive several benefits when partnering with a background screening and onboarding partner that uses advanced technologies. Citing the Forrester study: “Over 40% of respondents expected to achieve faster start times for new employees through a background check and screening partner, while nearly 40% expected improved efficiency of their talent acquisition teams.”  

While staffing challenges remain top of mind for healthcare systems, HR teams have cause for optimism. By incorporating advanced technology to expedite and simplify the background screening process, healthcare organisations can not only survive in tough times, but thrive.   

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