Baker’s Dozen Workplace Screening: Provider Aids Sutter Health with Policy and Compliance Support

In an end-to-end service relationship, a California hospital chain consolidates screening service vendors and discovers that a partnership with a single provider can lead to greater benefits.

by Carolyn Beghin, Director of HR, Sutter Health

Human Resources has evolved over the years as we’ve placed greater emphasis on strategic communications and explored new ways to work more efficiently. Today, we’re using data and metrics to manage our work, and we’re including a branding strategy to help attract and retain the very best employees.

For us, the HR leaders at Sutter Health, a not-for-profit network of 26 community-based hospitals and physician organizations throughout Northern California that employs more than 38,000, these evolutionary trends have never been more true.

The key to great HR is being able to communicate clearly and efficiently with each party involved in a hiring transaction. And with close to 10,000 new hires being screened yearly, it seems as if the company has communications down to a fine science. “It’s all about building relationships with our internal and external customers,” said Keith Vencel, HR product manager at Sutter Health.

There was a time when Sutter Health used more than a dozen different vendors to process background screening requests, causing workload backlogs and vast inconsistencies in reporting.

“We had close to a dozen different companies conducting employee investigations using a dozen different processes and providing analyses in a dozen different formats,” Vencel recalled. “From an economies of scale standpoint, we were losing out in terms of costs, quality, and time.”

Our biggest concerns were inconsistencies in the overall processes, making sure that those processes complied with hiring laws, and the program cost.

After reviewing the system, a team of HR professionals and our legal staff determined that our overall return on investment in the screening process had to involve a reduction in cost per case, reduction in the average turnaround time, and complete standardization of the process.

Consolidating Vendors
After vetting a number of providers, Sutter Health chose Corporate Screening Services to take a strong business partnership role and assist us in revolutionizing our system, revamping our screening policies, educating our staff, revising documentation standards, and, finally, securing a purchasing relationship with our affiliates.

That task was not simple. First, Sutter contracted Corporate Screening for a three-year agreement, which called for the provider to reduce costs per case, cut the average turnaround time from 12 to four days, work closely with Sutter’s risk-management team, and educate staff on FCRA/CCRAA/ICRAAA (Federal and California regulation) issues.

Compliance with FCRA/CCRAA/ ICRAAA required in-depth review and consultation. Working with Sutter Health’s legal and risk-management departments on interpretive issues and various challenges that accompanied the federal and state law changes, the two organizations developed new screening guidelines to satisfy federal and California standards.

Through that effort, we were able to modify our policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the laws.

Corporate Screening further developed investigative standards for each position, ranging from housekeeping to medical staff, revised documentation to ensure the right information accompanied investigation requests (which greatly reduced turnaround time), and established an internal program to ensure legal compliance in every facet of the background-checking process.

An Analytical Solution
Corporate Screening analyzed our system, developed processes to streamline that system, and cultivated relationships with Sutter Health affiliates to implement those agreed-upon processes. It collaborated with our HR team and Sutter Health affiliates on the management end, and transformed an inconsistent, expensive operation into a streamlined process.

Much of Sutter Health’s recent success in background investigations resulted from a close working relationship with our sole screening vendor. We surveyed our HR leadership group system-wide, and Corporate Screening has received very high marks in the areas of quality, responsiveness turnaround, reporting, and access to information. This partnership certainly has worked to our advantage.

Corporate Screening has since opened an office in California with a full-time employee to serve Sutter Health. As a result, the nature of our screening relationship has changed from being vendor-client to a true partnership.

Posted November 10, 2007 in Talent Acquisition

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