Want to hire better, and promote trust in your healthcare system? Then think of your organization as a body. When everyone is doing their part, the body as a whole flourishes, but throw in one bad actor and the whole system can come crashing down. Every organization works hard to manage employee-based risks, but for hospitals and similar organizations, the challenges are even more pronounced given the sensitive nature of the healthcare profession. So what are healthcare organizations doing today to ensure patient safety and public trust?

It’s an important question. Patients trust that healthcare professionals will do everything in their power to ensure patient safety and privacy. So when someone in the organization does something that goes against this belief—discriminating against a patient or mistreating those under their care—the story goes viral and it’s not long before all trust is eroded. Events like these suggest that hospitals may need far more than standard credentialing or criminal background checks to protect their organizations. In an effort to regain patients’ trust, healthcare systems are now looking to identify risky behaviors during the hiring process.

Take emergency room doctor Christopher Kwan Chen Lee as an example. After it was revealed that he had posted a series of sexist and racist remarks online, among them a comment that “some women deserve to be raped”, hundreds of people called for his resignation and exposed a major flaw in the hospital’s screening process. As it becomes increasingly clear that every employee’s actions are an extension of the hospital, no hospital or healthcare organization can avoid the risks of a personnel-based scandal, and more of them are turning to social screening to avoid hiring professionals who may put patient safety and community trust at risk.

Healthcare organizations have been losing trust for many years now. Over the last two decades, the percentage of adults who are confident in the healthcare system has dropped from 76% to just 34%. In a world where as much as 40% to 60% of an organization’s intangible asset value is attributable to reputation and brand, that means the healthcare industry could lose up to $1.5 trillion per year based on issues of trust alone. Those numbers can paint a bleak picture—but they also suggest there are many opportunities for hospitals and healthcare systems to show their communities that they care.

More and more leading hospitals are using social screening to protect patient safety and ward off reputational risks. While it’s not a silver bullet, it offers a new way of preventing bad hires, showing the public you don’t take their trust for granted, and making your publicity real. Screening for behaviors and not just credentials or criminal records is a new way to prevent risks to patient safety and show the community you are taking action, not just standing by.

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