The impact of GDPR on the healthcare sector

The healthcare sector, like many others, is now bound by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force in May 2018. GDPR requires healthcare professionals to keep personal, medical and financial information safe and secure, and with the sheer volume of this type of information being used on a daily basis, this can be challenging. This is why it’s vital that training for nurses and care homes is offered, so that healthcare professionals are fully compliant with GDPR.

Healthcare providers like care homes, hospices and home care services clearly deal with large amounts of personal data that relates to their patients, and the volume of this data, which may include information about vulnerable individuals, means that they may not be able to give consent on their own, which is an important part of the new regulations.

What challenges do healthcare professionals face with GDPR?

When it comes GDPR, there are a number of different challenges that healthcare professionals are up against. As the level of personal information increases, so too does the need to justify disclosure. This means that healthcare professionals are required to inform patients if they need to disclose information, and seek their consent, which must be explicit. This is a particular challenge when dealing with vulnerable patients, and is one of the many reasons why GDPR training for care homes and nurses is vital.

Healthcare professionals should only ask for the minimum amount of information, which poses a huge challenge, as data that was once collected for research purposes isn’t as available under GDPR. Patients also have the right for their information to be forgotten, which has significant implications for healthcare, especially if deleting data isn’t going to benefit the patient.

Health and social care providers often work with various suppliers and service providers, and under GDPR, there is a requirement for the data controller to ensure that whenever patient data is shared, all interested parties are adhering to GDPR, which means that if a particular supplier isn’t complying, then it could cause significant delays for patients.

The healthcare sector is already under increased demand and growing pressure, and GDPR is another layer for healthcare professionals to get to grips with. In fact, data is routinely shared across the sector, which means that the need to be compliant and have fully trained staff, who are able to implement and adhere to GDPR is an important consideration for service providers, so that patients and their data are safe and secure whilst they are receiving the care they need.

Training is important for healthcare professionals to ensure compliance with GDPR

Training for nurses and care homes is already an important part of the health and social care sector, and on-going CPD for nurses and other professionals is key to ensure that they undertake their roles effectively, and keep up to date with changes and developments in their sector.

Under GDPR, the Information Commissioner’s Office may impose fines, and this is why training is an essential tool for healthcare providers to ensure that members of staff are compliant and fully trained on the responsibility they have for patient data and the protection of this information.

Healthcare professionals are now looking at training courses that will ensure all members of staff are compliant and understand what steps are needed to obtain, store and destroy the personal data of patients in their care.

GDPR training courses are essential for nurses and staff working in care homes, who may need to refresh their knowledge and understand the changes in data compliance. Healthcare professionals have had a responsibility of ensuring that they are aware of data protection laws for many years, and the introduction of GDPR provides another opportunity to train staff and add to their on-going CPD.

What are the consequences for healthcare if they fail to comply with GDPR?

When it comes to data protection and the introduction of GDPR, it isn’t just the process that’s changed for healthcare professionals. The financial penalties for not complying with the new regulations are far greater, where previously fines could be issued up to a maximum of £500,000, that figure is now nearly £18 million or 4% of turnover, and depends on which would be the greater amount. This clearly shows how serious the need to comply is, and how healthcare professionals need to take steps to ensure that their staff are fully compliant and possess the knowledge required to implement GDPR properly.

Patients also have more control over their data when it comes to GDPR. In fact, the process for patients to claim for breaches is far easier than before, and new requirements mean that patients must be told about the misuse or loss of data that relates to them. This means that the requirement to ensure that data is stored appropriately is far greater, and staff need to be trained to ensure that service providers are fully compliant with the new regulations.

The implementation of GDPR means that patients and service providers now work more closely together, leading to an improvement in relationships between healthcare professionals and the patients they care for. Patients can be confident that the information and data they provide to service providers is safe and secure, and that if they ever wish to access their information, they are able to do so easily.

Training and development of staff in healthcare has always been an important part of the sector, and with GDPR now playing a huge role in the day to day working practices of nurses and those individuals working in care homes, training is becoming more important to ensure that providers are compliant, and staff have the knowledge and understanding to obtain and store patient data, so that they adhere to the regulations.

View our range of GDPR and Information Governance training courses for more information

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