Keeping the clowns out of your company

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

While presenting at the 2011 HME News Business Summit in September, several people asked for advice on ways they could better verify the skills and backgrounds of their job applicants. Immediately, my thoughts turned to Carrie Robinson, a cost-cutting financial consultant who I previously worked with in the HR technology industry. For years, Carrie and I worked together to create and deliver client solutions at HR technology companies like ChoicePoint, Ceridian and First Advantage. I oversaw the solutions' design while Carrie advised employers on how to best maximize the resulting services to improve their hiring process.

"When evaluating job candidates, the two largest areas where you find conflicts and confusion are on their resume in education and employment history," Robinson says. The good news is that there are a wide variety of online tools that can help you check the facts.

Assessment tests can help you evaluate whether or not a job applicant truly has the skills necessary for the position. Different kinds of assessment tests are available to review a candidate's personality, character traits and technical skills. You can even have custom ones created for the specific nature or requirements of your open positions.

"By using assessment tests, you might discover that you have the perfect candidate for inventory management, but they may not have the right skill set or personality for assisting customers with advanced healthcare needs. Having that information helps you leverage that person's strengths to your company's advantage," Robinson advises.

Some of the leading providers of online assessment tests include Previsor, First Advantage and Kenexa. Kenexa offers a fantastic website called Prove It!,, that contains more than 1,200 skills and behavioral assessments for clerical, software, technical, call center, industrial, financial, legal and medical positions.

"I always recommend assessment tests along with a complete background and employment verification search," Robinson adds. "The cost of making a bad hiring decision is far worse than the fee of using a qualified recruiter and a thorough background check."

This is especially true in the healthcare industry, where your employees often come in contact with vulnerable or high-risk patients, as well as a variety of personal health information. In fact, the OIG Compliance Program recommends that healthcare workers be carefully screened before any hiring decision is made.

"I've received numerous requests from healthcare organizations to screen per JCAHO standards," Robinson says. "There is confusion in this area because there is not a 'standard' screening element or silver bullet search due to the variety of healthcare organizations and positions hired within these organizations."

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) compliance guidelines were established to mitigate fraud and abuse in the healthcare industry. HHS says that compliance programs should include "the investigation and remediation of identified systemic problems and the development of policies addressing the non-employment or retention of sanctioned individuals."

One of the best tools available to meet these minimum compliance guidelines is with the Fraud and Abuse Control Information Search [FACIS] search. This search is an available item through most reputable background screening organizations. A FACIS search meets the federal government's requirements set forth in the OIG's Compliance Program and contains information reported by the FDA, DEA, Tri-Care and more than 800 state and federal sources. By using this specific search, you can discover healthcare-specific sanctions, including exclusions, debarments, suspensions, revocations, terminations, probations, restrictions, limitations and letters of reprimand.

"When reviewing an applicant's background, in addition to verifying their skills, I personally advise my clients to go back at least five years or back through their last three employers to get a true picture of that person," Robinson says.

Lisa Wells is the director of marketing for UroMed. For more help on hiring practices, please contact Carrie Robinson at 404-918-4496 or email Carrie has more than 12 years of human resources and financial analysis experience in the medical industry.