October 11th, 2022 | Sterling

Why HR Teams in Healthcare Need to Review Their Background Check Program

The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically changed the healthcare industry over the past two years. With higher turnover, staffing shortages, and burnout among the workforce, healthcare HR teams are being asked to hire quickly and onboard more candidates to keep up with organizational demand. However, many HR teams are still finding themselves reliant upon inefficient resources and processes, which are often both manual and time-consuming.

Now more than ever, the need for healthcare organizations to reevaluate their background screening program is critical. Here’s how the Covid-19 pandemic impacted hiring in healthcare and why HR teams need to consider reviewing their background screening program to attract and onboard talent fast.

1. The Healthcare Workforce Has Transformed

With 1 in 5 healthcare workers quitting their jobs during the pandemic, health systems were left to identify ways to quickly hire more talent. Because of this critical demand, new and existing opportunities for how and where care is delivered started to take off. For example, the popularity and success of telehealth during the pandemic opened a new door for healthcare organizations providing care apart from traditional settings. The rise of contingent workers, travel nurses, and locum tenens are all trends which have grown to accommodate unfilled positions. Additionally, the ability for administrative roles to work from home or in hybrid arrangements has also increased. Meanwhile, healthcare organizations are undergoing more mergers and acquisitions to respond to the fast-changing environment, especially in behavioral health.

Although these opportunities have allowed health systems to adapt to today’s hiring environment, their background screening program also needs to stay on top of industry requirements, such as:

  • Managing the complexities of background screening across state lines, especially for travel nurses
  • Mitigating risk when it comes to screening your contingent workers vs. your full-time employees
  • Knowing exactly who you’re hiring before conducting a background check by using identity verification, especially when you’re hiring remotely

For healthcare organizations looking to implement one of these options, it’s important that they revisit their background screening program to see if their current process can provide the in-depth screening needed.

2. HR Teams Are Being Asked to Onboard Faster Than Ever Before

HR leaders were left in a difficult position when the Covid-19 pandemic started. Needing to onboard more workers to keep up with their staffing needs, many found themselves having to make quick hires to fill the gap while still using the same resources. Unfortunately, most HR teams didn’t have automation options readily available, and so were stuck using cumbersome manual processes.

In a recent interview conducted by Becker’s Hospital, Ryan Garman, Sterling’s Healthcare and Life Sciences Director, commented on the challenges involved in using manual processes to meet today’s hiring demands: “When you’re attempting to onboard hundreds of candidates a week, and it’s taking several hours of manual administrative work for each one, you’re talking about an enormous amount of lost productivity.”

Conducting in-depth criminal background checks when filling open positions is critical, yet most background screening vendors see themselves as a static piece of a legacy process rather than partnering with health systems to streamline the entire onboarding experience. However, the background screening process shouldn’t just be about completing a background check. As mentioned in this recent Human Resource Executive article, HR leaders need to start broadening the role of HR technology and how it is used in their hiring process. Part of this should include how a background screening partner with technology-enabled screening can fit into their overall HR strategy. By doing so, organizations can begin exploring the possibility of automating the most manual and non-strategic aspects of the onboarding workflow.

Given these new hiring demands, it’s also likely that many organizations have not yet performed a true assessment of their background screening program to see if they’re striking the right balance between mitigating risk and budgetary needs. Questions such as, “Where am I finding most of my criminal information; is my program cost-efficient; am I running searches that have the best TAT?” need to be asked now if they haven’t already. With these questions in mind, Sterling proactively partners with our healthcare clients to continually strengthen and optimize their background screening program based on their growing needs.

3. Healthcare Is Now a Candidate-Driven Market

The pandemic sparked “The Great Resignation,” and subsequently, healthcare saw a dramatic increase in filling clinical and non-clinical roles. As a result, attracting top talent has now become even more of a challenge for HR teams, since candidates have more flexibility in where they decide to work. Naturally, HR leaders are now having to adjust their recruiting and onboarding strategies to accommodate this new type of market and stand out from their competition.

Delivering a positive and seamless candidate experience can be the deciding factor between a candidate moving forward with one company over another. A study from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that nearly half (49%) of job seekers have refused a job offer due to a bad experience in the hiring process. That’s why, in a candidate-driven market, every single candidate matters.

HR teams should review their current processes to identify existing bottlenecks such as:

  • Is our hiring process too complicated or too long?
  • Are we staying engaged with our candidates throughout the process?
  • Is the candidate able to complete their steps from anywhere, at any time?

To succeed in all these hiring objectives, it’s important to find a background screening partner who can deliver both a smooth and engaging hiring experience. Sterling’s mobile Candidate Hub delivers a great first impression by enabling candidates to complete their screening process with a clear and easy-to-understand mobile design. With SMS notifications for project updates and task completions, as well as candidate services support, candidates are guided throughout the whole process, reducing the likelihood of candidate drop-off.

However, providing a positive experience goes well beyond filling a vacant role. When candidates go through an effective and detailed onboarding process, they are more productive, they’re more likely to be enthusiastic about their organization, and they can go on to become effective brand ambassadors for an organization.


HR teams have been critical in combating staffing shortages and keeping the healthcare workforce afloat over the past two years, but the lingering effects of Covid-19 have changed the way these organizations operate. Streamlining the hiring process and optimizing the candidate experience can help organizations onboard quickly and safely. Not only is it advantageous to leverage modern background check technology, but finding the right strategic partner who can fit into the overall hiring strategy is where the real benefits lie for HR teams.

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.