Skip to main content

You’ve found the perfect candidate. They’re impeccably qualified and experienced, and they’re ready to start immediately. But are you legally allowed to hire them? And are they telling the truth about their background?

Healthcare background checks ensure that each of your new hires are representing themselves accurately and are qualified to work in the healthcare space. When you get back a clean and thorough background check, you have peace of mind in hiring. Here’s what you need to know.

Why Are Background Checks Important in Healthcare?

Healthcare background checks ensure that the people you’re hiring are qualified, and aren’t misrepresenting themselves in any way. They also ensure that the people you’re hiring are legally eligible to work, and that hiring them will keep you compliant.

Employee background is important in any industry. However, there’s an added layer of sensitivity when employees work face-to-face with patients. Healthcare employees also often have access to sensitive data, such as the private medical records of patients. The patient’s health may lie in the hands of your new employee, and you want to make sure that those hands are qualified and trustworthy.

How to Read a Background Check Report

Ideally, you’re using background check software that makes it easy to quickly understand your results. But there are still best practices when it comes to reading a background check report.

In addition to any obvious red flags, look for smaller inconsistencies. If the employee is being dishonest about their work history, you may need to dig deeper. Again, the best software will point out and highlight these inconsistencies for you, so you don’t have to put in the effort to manually check each document.

Healthcare Background Check Requirements

There are many elements that go into a healthcare background screening, from identity confirmation to a government exclusion search. Each of these requirements exists to ensure that you’re hiring safe and honest employees. Here are a few of the most common components of a healthcare background check.

Identity Confirmation

An identity check will verify your candidate’s personal information, including their name, past addresses, and work history. Additionally, it will confirm that the rest of the background check is performed on the correct candidate.

Criminal Database Search

Depending on the background check you choose, a criminal database search may be included. Criminal background checks tap comprehensive national, state, and/or local databases to locate criminal records. While candidates with criminal records may still make valuable employees, it’s important to have the information you need to make the right hiring choice. There are also certain convictions, such as elder abuse, that lead to an individual being unable to legally work in the senior care industry.

National Sex Offender Search

A national sex offender search will pull information from the registries of every state, territory, and the District of Columbia and return any conviction records (or guilty pleas) related to a sex crime.

It may be illegal to hire an individual who’s on the sex offender registry in some states. For example, Illinois bans individuals on the sex offender registry from practicing medicine. Some healthcare organizations may also have individual rules on whether or not they employ people on the registry.

New call-to-action

Prior Employment and Education Confirmation

The prior employment and education check guarantees your candidates are actually qualified for your positions.

Government Exclusion Search

The U.S. government maintains two primary databases (OIG and SAM) that keep track of healthcare workers who are prohibited from receiving federal funds. A federal exclusion search checks candidates against this database. This could be important information for facilities, as it could mean that this person has committed Medicaid or Medicare fraud. Many states also have their own exclusion lists, which employers should check if applicable. In some cases, it’s even illegal to hire these individuals.

Motor Vehicle Records

If you are hiring candidates that will be driving or operating machinery as part of their jobs, you may be interested in checking their driving records and verifying their licenses before you extend a job offer. Many home health aides drive as part of their duties, and you may want to know that they’ll be safe on the road.


Whenever a physician or nurse commits an error that does not live up to the standard bestowed upon them by a license, they receive a sanction. Sanctions can include public censures, fines, suspensions, and other actions the licensing board took against the individual. Medical professionals can also have their licenses suspended or revoked.

How Far Back Does a Background Check Go?

The short answer? It depends on the state, organization, agency, software, or agency performing a check. For example, in California, the limit is generally seven years. However, for positions with a salary over $125,000, the limit extends to ten years. In DC, the limit for reporting criminal convictions is ten years. How far back your background check will go depends largely on the location where you’re hiring.

How Long Does a Background Check Take?

The length of time it takes for a background check to return depends on a multitude of factors, from your state to your software to your candidate’s history. The range of time is wide, with some background checks coming back within minutes, and others returning in up to four days.

If your background check software is integrated with your applicant tracking and human capital management, then that length of time should be greatly reduced. Check in with a potential software company to understand their standard timeframe.

What Should You Look for In Background Check Software?

On the market for a better way to do background checks? There are a few things you should keep in mind as you shop. Here are some of the best features to look out for in background check software.

1. It Integrates With Your Other Software

If you’re using software that’s separate from all your hiring and management functions, then you’ll have to enter information for each new candidate manually. This takes up a lot of your time, and increases the possibility of errors. Instead, look for a background checking platform that integrates with your other hiring tools. When everything is integrated, you should be able to transfer candidate information right from your applicant tracking system, which ultimately means fewer delays leading to your new hire’s start date.

2. It Gives You Continuity

Sometimes, it’s not worth reinventing the wheel. If the majority of your staff is familiar with one particular background check service, then that might be the best one for you. This way, you can forgo training for some employees, or even have employees train each other. Consider surveying your HR team to check what software they’ve used in the past and are the most comfortable with.

3. It Works With Healthcare

Healthcare is a unique industry with unique challenges, and your background check system needs to reflect that. Not all industries focus on these specific factors and have customer success teams that fully understand the challenges of healthcare. Choose a tool that specifically works with healthcare companies to provide in-depth and on-time background checks. These healthcare-specific tools typically offer exclusion list screenings, sex offender registry checks, and reference checks.

4. It’s Easy to Use

A complicated system helps no one. Instead, you want a system that is straightforward, intuitive, and integrates seamlessly with your existing tools. Ask for a demo of the background check system you’re interested in using, and keep the following questions in mind.

  • Is it intuitive and easy to use?
  • Is there visual clarity? Do you know exactly where to go on the platform to get what you need, or do you find yourself searching for the proper icon?
  • Is it flexible? Can you easily maneuver between different functions, such as hiring, management, and background checks?
  • Is it consistent? Can you use the same method over time?

Here’s what you should look for in a software demo.

Peace of Mind With Apploi

With Apploi’s all-in-one workforce management suite, you can attract, hire, onboard, and manage qualified candidates from a single streamlined platform. Complete background checks quickly and reliably with Apploi’s integrated partners. Don’t just take our word for it. Schedule a demo today.

Melanie Boroosan

Over her six years in healthcare administration, Melanie has managed human resources, legal, compliance, payroll, and recruitment efforts at a corporate level. This oversight granted her a deep appreciation for the unique needs of healthcare managers, and for the direct ways that business operations affect the wellbeing of each employee. As Apploi’s Director of Healthcare Innovation, Melanie draws from her experience in healthcare HR and ancillary long-term care to pursue a vision of holistic healthcare staffing. Her work is rooted in the knowledge that great care begins with improving quality of life for all healthcare workers.