Providers use Web as tool to screen disqualified workers

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A technology-based background check system developed by Michigan State University prevented nearly 4,000 undeserving applicants from getting jobs in long-term care facilities in just over a year. Legislation introduced in the Senate by Aging Committee Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI) could make it a nationwide model.

In 2005, MSU researchers partnered with several state agencies to develop and implement Michigan's Workforce Background Check Program. The program is a Web-based informatics system that integrates the databases of several registries and provides a mechanism for conducting criminal history checks on prospective employees, current employees, independent contractors and those granted clinical privileges in facilities.
The system gives long-term care providers online access to the system with a secure login and password, allowing them to check multiple registries. If no matches are found, applicants are sent to an independent vendor for a digital scan of their fingerprints, which are sent to the Michigan State Police and to the FBI. If disqualifying information is found, notice is sent to either the Michigan Department of Community Health or the Michigan Department of Human Services for staff analysts to examine the applicant's criminal history. An appeals process also exists.
In addition, Michigan employs a "rap back" system by the state police that notifies the state agencies of changes in a history including arrests, charges and convictions. The agencies, in turn, notify the employers.
A state health official said applicants were excluded from hiring pools due to information found on the U.S. Health and Human Services exclusion list, the nurse aide registry, the sex offender registry, the offender tracking information system and the FBI list.
Nursing homes were involved in the design of the system, an important element in its success and use, program director Lori Post said.