Protecting our patients, protecting ourselves – Michael SultanFeatured Products Promotional Features
Posted by: The Probe 3rd May 2018
If you’ve not heard anything about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), well, you must have been living under a rock for the last year or so. The most important change to data privacy in at least 20 years, GDPR is going to have a distinct impact on the dental profession and it’s taking place this year, so we need to be prepared.
Data protection is familiar territory for us as healthcare professionals. We are accustomed to handling sensitive data and maintaining professional confidentiality. But GDPR encompasses much more than these aspects of our profession. As we are all fully aware, the world has changed a great deal in the last few decades – and at the forefront of those changes is the internet and social media. There’s no denying that these things have brought many positive changes to UK dentistry, but they have also created stark gaps in data protection and reputational protection. GDPR seeks to address these changes and make sure that everyone is protected in the modern age.
Obviously, this is a step in the right direction. Healthcare is a particularly sensitive area and the use of modern technology has precipitated a great many new challenges to the sector. We only need to think back to the recent blunder between the NHS and Google, whereby 1.6 million patient records were illegally shared. Through the development of a new, and undeniably helpful, app, the NHS unwittingly divulged sensitive patient data to a third party company. Not only was this incredibly embarrassing for the NHS, it represented a massive breach of patient trust and protection – and now serves as a modern day parable into the dangers of data protection.
In our day to day practice, we are unlikely to make such a huge error with data protection, but that does by no means that we are not at risk of making proportional mistakes that could have dire consequences. The amount of sensitive information that passes through our practices on a daily basis is most likely very high, and each bit poses a distinct risk if not handled correctly. And with online or cloud based data storage and communication, these risks are exacerbated.
GDPR lays out a series of obligations that we will all have to follow, and they will necessitate some distinct changes in the way we all undertake many aspects of daily practice, form data handling to marketing. GDPR promotes data transparency, meaning we must all be in the position to give our patients access to how and why their data is being used. They must also be able to remove their information completely from our systems, upon request, which will have an impact on how we must store data and, particularly, use contact information. Sending out appointment reminders, newsletters or emails will have to be significantly more controlled, at the risk of serious penalties.
There can be no denying that this will create more work for our practices. Every member of staff will need to be well versed on the necessities of GDPR and the practice will have to be more tightly controlled to ensure there are no breaches. But despite this, GDPR is an incredibly important piece of legislation, and will go a long way to further protect our patients and, ultimately, ourselves. It is important to remember that we, as healthcare professionals, have a duty of care to each and every one of our patients, and this does not stop with their teeth. When a patient comes into our practice, we are obligated to protect them completely – not just in respect to their oral and general health, but in every single way we deal with them: from handling their data to protecting their privacy. This is foundational to the trust we need to build with our patients, and if GDPR helps us better do this, then we should embrace it wholeheartedly, even if it means more work for us and our teams.
Protecting our patients is indescribably important – even more so today when the risks involved with data storage and sharing are so high. While this is something with which we are all familiar, it is important to stay abreast of all the changes as they happen, and keep up to date with GDPR and new legislation. This way we can ensure our patients, as well as ourselves, are protected.
For further information please call EndoCare on 020 7224 0999
Or visit www.endocare.co.uk
EndoCare, led by Dr Michael Sultan, is one of the UK’s most trusted Specialist Endodontist practices. Through the use of the latest technologies and techniques, the highly-trained team can offer exceptional standards of care – always putting the patient first. What’s more, EndoCare is a dependable referral centre, to which dentists from across the country send their patients for the best in specialist endodontic treatment.
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