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GDPR for your healthcare practice

January 31, 2022

GDPR in Healthcare

Doctors and healthcare professionals have access to some of the most sensitive patient data there is. It is essential that every healthcare practice is aware of the laws and regulations surrounding data protection, not only as a legal requirement, but for the protection of the patients they care for.

Semble's Head of Compliance, Rose Fallows, shares her knowledge on GDPR to give valuable insights on data security and GDPR compliance for healthcare practices.

What is GDPR and why is it important?

GDPR stands for ‘General Data Protection Regulation’. When we say ‘GDPR’ we are referring to the various laws and regulations, both national and international, which determine the rights of individuals in regards to the use of their personal data. Specifically, these are the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the UK GDPR laws, which is the enactment of this EU legislation, and the UK’s Data Protection Act 2018.

In the UK, businesses and organisations that handle personal data are subject to the UK GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018. Healthcare data is considered to be a special category of sensitivity, making it even more important that clinics are aware of data regulations and that they implement them in their practice. 

Doctors see patients at their most vulnerable. A data leak is a serious issue in healthcare that could put both the patient and the reputation of the practice at risk. In extreme cases, clinics could be fined by the ICO for a serious breach of patient security.

At Semble, we take our data obligations very seriously. Our software is built to enable safe and easy data management, helping clinics to keep their data secure. 


Storing data on a cloud-based software

All data uploaded onto Semble is stored on our cloud-based servers, which meet the most rigorous security standards. The main benefit of storing data on a cloud platform, as opposed to physical documents or electronically on a hard drive, is the security. 

Data stored in the cloud is much harder to destroy or lose. It is also protected by robust security measures, including two-factor authentication for logins and encrypted firewalls.

Furthermore, all the data is located in one place, so it is easier to keep track of and manage from the perspective of administrative staff.


Semble as a GDPR-compliant system

Semble acts as a ‘data processor’ on behalf of our clients, who are the ‘data controllers’. Our servers have the highest level of security certification, which is the same used by banks and government services. Only a small number of authorised Semble staff have access to these servers. 

In order for users to access Semble, each login requires two-factor authentication. This process gives Semble an extra level of security, which when combined with Semble’s data encryption and cryptographic technologies gives even greater protection for both clinicians and patients.

On the patient’s side, each clinic is responsible for ensuring patients give consent for the use of their medical data prior to treatment. Semble helps to ensure that the right people have access to the right data by facilitating secure sharing of scans, medical notes, and patient letters among clinicians and with patients. 


Beyond GDPR

The benefits of using a cloud-based system go beyond merely complying with the legal requirements of data protection regulations. An often overlooked benefit of using a GDPR-compliant software such as Semble is the ease with which you can move, store, and control your databases. 

The Semble dashboard provides transparency and the clear layout means that data is much easier to manage and track. All data is centralised in one place, bringing enormous benefit to practices that have previously struggled with fragmented patient documents and making it easier to monitor patient progress and measure treatment outcomes. This feature helps practices to adapt their treatment processes and patient care for better results in the future. 

Finally, the centralised nature of data storage means that if a patient were to move to a different practice, then it would be easy to permanently remove their data from the database. 

To find out more about GDPR in healthcare, visit the UK Government webpage on GDPR.