February 22nd, 2022 | Valerya Poltorak, General Manager, Sterling Healthcare & Life Sciences

Takeaways from the Healthcare & Life Sciences 2022 Benchmark Report

Download the report here.

Although healthcare organizations share a common purpose in providing critical care for people, the specific hiring process and screening needs of hospitals, long-term care facilities, behavioral health, pharmaceutical companies, and healthcare staffing firms often differ. For example, what screening requirements do hospice care facilities focus on, as opposed to those needed for a hospital? What does the hiring process look like for a biotech company, contrasted with one needed for a long-term care facility?

With these urgent needs in mind, Sterling’s Healthcare and Life Sciences division has developed a summarized 2022 benchmark report outlining what we’ve learned from each of our Centers of Excellence (COE) in 2021.

Acute Care and Outpatient Services

Our acute care clients utilized our comprehensive criminal background check with specific state requirements, verifications, fingerprinting, abuse registry, and drug and occupational health services. Sterling’s healthcare team also sees an increase of acute care organizations which implement license monitoring to continuously track license status changes and expirations across thousands of medical licensing bodies, including all state-regulated licenses.

Higher-level education verifications are more prevalent in our acute care clients. At Sterling, 90% of education verifications (for colleges and universities) close in just 2 days. We own and maintain a sophisticated database that allows us to identify validated contacts in 130,000+ entities, allowing our clients to make safer hiring decisions and onboarding their candidates faster.

Considering all the many requirements for job roles categorized as ‘healthcare workers,’ the cost-to-hire is generally higher in this COE. However, our healthcare team sees that our acute-care clients tend to have lower turnover, showing that the effort behind screening and hiring the right candidates for these organizations is paying dividends in the form of higher worker retention.

Post-Acute and Long-term Care

Generally, it’s common for post-acute facilities to decentralize their TA and onboarding teams, allowing their individual locations to deliver their own program needs. Last year, we saw more post-acute clients move towards centralizing their background screening program and policies. This is mainly done to improve compliance and to be more involved in enhancing their candidates’ onboarding experience.

Sterling saw higher implementation of criminal background checks among our post-acute clients, which is to be expected given that this COE serves the most vulnerable population. Sterling’s CourtDirectSM proprietary technology has access to 90% of US criminal search records, allowing Sterling’s healthcare team to deliver results faster. We also saw that most of our post-acute clients maintain fingerprinting and pre employment drug test at the local level. As one of the most highly-regulated COE, these required services, combined with criminal background checks, are frequently used in order to maintain a safe workplace and reduce risk for both patients and employees.

The Sterling healthcare team usually sees high turnover among post-acute employees, which has only been intensified by the Covid-19 pandemic. Employee turnover is disruptive and costly, especially in healthcare, where unfortunately this can quickly lead to poor patient outcomes. However, since hospices, behavioral health facilities, and other post-acute services frequently onboard new hires, we also see that they tend to have faster turnaround times, mainly due to these organizations regularly hiring non-clinical roles, which are not often in the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC).

Life Sciences

As a federally-regulated COE that must adhere to both government and regulatory authorities,  we see higher adoption of background checks, sanctions, employment, and education verifications in those markets. We also see higher implementation in our drug and occupational health screening services.

Additionally, many of our life sciences clients operate globally. Needing to keep pace with the ever-changing nature of global background checks, Sterling provides diligent compliance updates to help our clients stay in the know on regional regulatory changes. We have screening and compliance solutions covering 240+ countries and territories, including teams on the ground in regions that house facilities.

Healthcare Staffing

Providing services to a variety of healthcare organizations, Sterling’s healthcare staffing clients have a uniquely-centralized hiring process as they process a high volume of nationwide autonomous users.

Since our healthcare staffing clients process large volumes of candidates, the need for fast turnaround times to clear candidates is strongly significant to their overall screening program. Our healthcare clients also require the program flexibility and availability of other Sterling’s services in order to accommodate the screening needs and requirements of their users. Finally, we do see higher adoption of occupational health screening services, as they can control both costs with one vendor and experience.


2021 was a difficult year that introduced a broad array of challenges for our healthcare and life sciences clients while intensifying existing difficulties. Despite these obstacles, we are pleased to see that we were able to continue providing the support and services our client’s require. There are still many uncertainties that 2022 will bring upon us and we anticipate our clients’ hiring needs to change. However, by understanding each of our COE’s hiring requirements, we are able to provide proactive guidance and recommendations to TA and onboarding teams so they can further optimize their hiring strategy.

Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.