Workforce Background Check

National and state officials have been calling for better means to protect those receiving long-term care and children in childcare settings. Michigan State University (MSU), in partnership with the State of Michigan, has developed a flexible, online Workforce Background Check system for Michigan. We can customize the system for other Michigan departments that have civil and criminal history background check requirements.

Michigan's workforce background check program was chosen as the model for the national demonstration program to screen healthcare workers, authorized by the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Over the past few years the program has expanded to include child care providers (in 2018), medical marihuana licensees (in 2018), and health professional licensees (in 2015).

System Effectiveness Highlights

To date, over 1,569,800 applicants for healthcare facilities have been checked, with over 21,460 eliminated from consideration as a result of background checks. Additionally, over 107,500 child care providers, over 167,300 health professional licensees, and almost 3,000 medical marijuana licensee have been checked. There has been continuing development in response to state policy and legislative changes. In addition to creating a custom screening tool, the Michigan Workforce Background Check team helped in establishing policies and procedures for conducting background checks across state agencies.

Benefits of the Workforce Background Check system

  • Employer interface provides "one-stop" shopping for comprehensive background checks with real time responses for name-based checks
  • Fingerprint-based check virtually eliminates false positive or negative results
  • Turnaround time has been reduced from 6-8 weeks to 48 hours
  • Availability of standardized background check process improves communication between agencies and prevents disqualified individuals from moving across facility types
  • Immediate automatic Rap Back notification is in place
  • High-security environment protects privacy of applicants and employees
  • System was built using best practices for user interface design and software development
  • System is compliant with Section 508 accessibility standards
  • System is customizable – can be tailored to meet your organization's requirements

Background

The State of Michigan's comprehensive background check program is designed to promote and protect the health and safety of Michigan's older adults, adults with disabilities, and children. The program uses an online system to assist in determining suitability of employment of prospective employees, independent contractors, health professional licensees, and medical marijuana licensees.

A team of MSU researchers received funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), through the State of Michigan to develop the Michigan Workforce Background Check system. In addition to creating the background checks web-based application, MSU researchers are studying the effectiveness of background checks in preventing abuse as well as, their effect on job creation in Michigan.

The Michigan Long-term Care Partnership, which was formed to set up and manage the program in Michigan, comprised these organizations:

  • Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
  • Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (formerly Department of Human Services and Department of Community Health)
  • Michigan State Police
  • Michigan State University
  • Long-term care community, advocates, and other stakeholders

As a result, the State of Michigan Workforce Background Check program:

  • Increased the scope of workers who are given background checks and the thoroughness of the checks
  • Harmonized procedures across state agencies
  • Established cost containment measures for background checks

The Michigan Workforce Background Check system, launched in 2006 for healthcare providers, remained active after the pilot phase first under a contract from (then) Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) to Michigan State University, and is currently under a contract from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). The Child Care Background Check system, launched in 2018, with funding from LARA (using Michigan Department of Education grant funding), also remains under contract. Contact: Larry Horvath, Bureau of Community and Health Systems, MI Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, michigan.gov/bchs.

Principal Investigators

  • Sarah J. Swierenga, PhD
  • Director, Usability/Accessibility Research and Consulting, Michigan State University
  • E-mail: sswieren@msu.edu
  • Phone: 517-432-6613
  • uarc.msu.edu
  • Bio & Vita
  • Fuad Abujarad, PhD
  • Assistant Professor, School of Medicine, Yale University (formerly at Michigan State University),
  • E-mail: fuad.abujarad@yale.edu
  • Phone: 203-928-9259
  • (Principal investigator of Yale subaward)

Project Team

Sarah Swierenga, PhD, CPE, Principal Investigator, has led the research team for the Michigan Workforce Background Check system for the State of Michigan since 2005. She manages the grant contracts, performs project management, and lends her user experience expertise to this large-scale project by applying user-centered design (UCD) principles within an iterative system development process. Dr. Swierenga and her MSU UARC team employ a range of methodologies during the system design and development process, such as focus groups, expert reviews, usability testing, and accessibility compliance inspections, and this iterative UCD process has been instrumental in deploying this usable, cost-effective system. The MWBC system is the national model for best design practices for background check systems. Dr. Swierenga also served as a policy advisor to the US Senate Commission on Aging regarding background check legislation. Additionally, she conducted a large-scale survey to establish baseline rates of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable Medicaid populations as Co-PI on another grant funded by CMS.

Fuad Abujarad, PhD, Principal Investigator at Yale University, is an experienced researcher and practitioner with over 20 years of experience in research and development in commercial as well as academic environments. He is recognized as an expert in the design and development of background check systems. Dr. Abujarad is the system architect and designer of the Michigan Workforce Background Check system (MWBC). He is also the leader of the development team who built, enhanced, and has maintained the MWBC system since 2006. The system is the national model for best design practices for background checks. Dr. Abujarad's research interests include automated model revision, fault-tolerance, formal methods, software engineering, and distributed computing; he has published and presented widely on automated model revision topics. Dr. Abujarad was a PhD Fulbright Scholar in computer science at Michigan State University. He continues to contribute his system design, application development, and software engineering expertise to this project through a Michigan State University partnership with Yale University.

Thi Nguyen, Lead Software Engineer, is a senior web application developer with Usability/Accessibility Research and Consulting. He designs, develops, and maintains the Michigan Workforce Background Check system for the State of Michigan. His mission is to maintain and enhance the system to give users the best experience possible and ensure that it adheres to the web standards for XHTML, and CSS, as well as State of Michigan user interface design standards, federal Section 508 accessibility guidelines, and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.

Trong Nguyen, Software Engineer, is a web programmer with Usability/Accessibility Research and Consulting. He develops and maintains the Michigan Workforce Background Check system. He is experienced in C, C#, .NET, and Java, as well as standards for XHTML, CSS, WCAG, and State of Michigan user interface design standards and federal Section 508 accessibility standards.

Press Releases

Project-related Research Publications

  • Abujarad, F., Desloge, A., Carslon, K., & Swierenga, S. J. (2018). The importance of user-centered design in performing background checks in child care. In A. Marcus and W. Wang (Eds.), Design, User Experience, and Usability: Understanding Users and Contexts, DUXU 2018, LNCS 10290, pp. 149-157. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-91806-8_12. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91806-8_12
  • Abujarad, F., & Swierenga, S. J., (2018, June 23). Ensuring a qualified long-term care workforce: Pilot study for pre-employment screening for in-home personal care workers. Poster presentation at the AcademyHealth Conference, June 23-26, Seattle, WA.
  • Raile, E. D., Swierenga, S. J., Dennis, T. A., Swanson-Aprill, L. A., Post, L. A., & Abujarad, F. (2017). Fingerprint-based background checks for personal care workers: Stakeholder views of policy criteria. Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/08946566.2017.1330715
  • Abujarad, F., O’Bara, I., & Swierenga, S. J. (2017). The role of UX in government system expansion. In A. Marcus and W. Wang (Eds.), Design, User Experience, and Usability: Understanding Users and Contexts, DUXU 2017, Part III, LNCS 10290, pp. 559-569. Switzerland: Springer International. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-58640-3_40
  • Abujarad, F., Swierenga, S. J., Dennis, T. A., & Post, L. A. (2015). The impact of usability on patient safety in long-term care. In Nah, F.F.-H. & Tan, C.-H. (Eds.), HCI in Business, HCIB 2015, LNCS 9191, pp. 221-231. Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-20895-4_21
  • Abujarad, F., Swierenga, S. J., Dennis, T. A., & Post, L. A. (2014). Management of on-line registries information for patient safety in long-term care. In Yamamoto, S. (Ed.), Human Interface and the Management of Information, Part II, HCII 2014, LNCS 8522, pp. 307-316. Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-07863-2_30
  • Abujarad, F. A., Swierenga, S. J., Dennis, T. A., & Post, L. A. (2014, March 17). Real-Time Screening to Improve Patient Safety in Long-term Care. Poster presentation at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 2014 International Symposium on Human Factors and Ergonomics in Health Care: Leading the Way. Chicago, IL.
  • Abujarad, F., Swierenga, S. J., Dennis, T. A., and Post, L. A. (2013). Rap backs: Continuous workforce monitoring to improve patient safety in long-term care. In Marcus, A. (ed.), Design, User Experience and Usability, HCII 2013, Part III, LNCS 8014, pp. 3-9. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91806-8
  • Swierenga, S. J., Abujarad, F., Dennis, T. A., and Post, L. A. (2013). Improving patient safety through user-centered healthcare background check system design. In Proceedings of the International Symposium of Human Factors and Ergonomics in Healthcare, 2(21), 21-26. Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. DOI: 10.1177/237857913021005. Available online at: http://hcs.sagepub.com/content/2/1/21
  • Swierenga, S. J., Abujarad, F., Dennis, T. A., & Post, L. A. (2011). Real-World user-centered design: The Michigan Workforce Background Check system. In Salvendy, G., and Smith, M. J. (eds.): Human Interface, Part II, HCII 2011, LNCS 6772, pp. 325-334. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-21793-7
  • Post, L. A., Salmon, C. T. , Prokhorov, A., Oehmke, J. F. , Swierenga, S. (2008). Aging and Elder Abuse: Projections for Michigan. Chapter 6 in Murdock, S.H., & Swanson, D. A. (Eds.), Applied Demography in the 21st Century, pp. 103-112. Springer Netherlands.
  • Post, L. A., Prokhorov, A., Salmon, C. T. Oehmke, J., and Swierenga, S. J. (2007). Aging and Elder Abuse: Projections for Michigan. Population Research & Policy Review. Retrieved from http://www.springer.com/west/home/geography/demography?SGWID=4-40775-70-35679167-0
  • Swierenga, S. J., Choi, J. H., Post, L. A., & Coursaris, C. (2007). Public health communication technology: A case study in Michigan long-term care settings. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 1(5), 115-124.
  • Post, L. A., Swierenga, S. J., Oehmke, J., Salmon, C., Prokhorov, A., Meyer, E., and Joshi, V. (2006) The implications of an aging population structure. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 1(2), 47-58.
  • Post, L. A., Prokhorov, A., Oehmke, J., Swierenga, S. J., and Hogberg, M. (2006). Aging and elder abuse: Projections for Michigan. Paper presented at the Applied Demography Conference, San Antonio, TX.
  • Swierenga, S. J., Post, L. A., and Connor, T.L. (2006, November). Abuse baseline survey of Michigan adults in long-term care: Results. Poster presented at the IHCS Fall Poster Session on Medicaid Match Projects, East Lansing, MI.
  • Swierenga, S. J., and Coursaris, C. (2006, November). Abuse complaints handling process: Addendum study to vulnerable Medicaid populations: A public policy assessment of abuse reduction. Poster presented at the IHCS Fall Poster Session on Medicaid Match Projects, East Lansing, MI.
  • Swierenga, S. J., Choi, J. H., Post, L. A., and Coursaris, C. (2006). Public health communication technology: A case study in Michigan long-term care settings. Paper presented at the International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Island of Rhodes, Greece.
  • Swierenga, S. J., Post, L. A., and Barbosa, G. (2005, November). Abuse baseline survey of Michigan adults in long-term care. Poster presented at the IHCS Fall Poster Session on Medicaid Match Projects, East Lansing, MI.
  • Post, L. A., Oehmke, J., Swierenga, S. J., Hogberg, M., Gia Barboza, G., and Korzeniewski, S. (2005, November). Public policy implications of an aging population for the prevention of abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Poster presented at the IHCS Fall Poster Session on Medicaid Match Projects, East Lansing, MI.
  • Oehmke, J., Post, L. Almerigi, J. and Swierenga, S. (2005). Rural economic sustainability and background checks on workers in rural health care settings: Evidence from the Michigan pilot background check program. Paper presented at the American Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting, Providence, RI.