As a healthcare worker, it is vital to ensure that your patients’ and customers’ data is protected at all costs. In recent years the rise of social media has created additional privacy concerns, especially in terms of GDPR. It is considered such a serious threat that it's been described as a “privacy and clinical safety timebomb” according to research carried out by St George’s University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Within pharmacy, optometry and care homes, the use of company WhatsApp groups has raised concerns for both employee and service users' privacy. If these concerns are not handled correctly, companies may face fines and reputational damage, which could lead to a loss of clients.

Is WhatsApp GDPR complaint for companies?

For businesses, WhatsApp transfers all data liability to the user. It states within its terms and conditions that using the app for non-personal communication is against its terms of service.

If you choose to or are using the app, to speak to staff it is essential that you make them aware it's for business purposes and how you’ll be using their personal details and any information shared within the group chat. The issue of consent is crucial here and one way you can ensure all employees have consented to share their data is by sending them invitation links to your company group chat.

WhatsApp and Pharmacy

A study was conducted in 2020 to explore how pharmacists use WhatsApp within out-of-hours settings. This research was carried out in response to the multiple studies available within medical and nursing disciplines yet minimal effort was made for pharmacy. The study found that pharmacists used the platform to discuss handovers, procedural and clinical queries along with administrative communication.

These usages highlight that WhatsApp can be a valuable platform to support the delivery of out-of-hours services through professional development, improving communication and sustaining relationships. However despite the advantages and ease of use it is crucial to remember the data implications and also more practical issues. These could be the risk of losing your phone which contains personal information of staff and/or patients.

What are the implications of using BeReal during work?

Head of Employment Law at Richard Nelson LLP, Jayne Harrison has weighed in on the discussion of privacy concerns surrounding sharing content to BeReal during working hours.

"For instance, you could be breaching your company’s rules by sharing information on your laptop screen, even if it’s just in the background of a photo. If confidential emails relating to your company or individuals at work are captured, other BeReal users are able to zoom in on the photos and see - not only breaching your company’s rules but data protection too.

"Most companies will have set rules about breaching confidentiality either in their disciplinary policy or staff handbook. However, once confidentiality is lost, it can’t be recovered so companies will often regard any breach as serious and warrant dismissal for gross misconduct."

Be cautious when using social media in the workplace

It is needless to say how important data protection is primarily within the healthcare sector. Based on this advice we recommend that pharmacists, optometrists and care staff do not use BeReal during work to ensure patient/resident confidentiality is upheld.

Behind pharmacy and optician dispensaries are multiple patient records from prescription labels to digital files, the same is true within care facilities. If images were captured here there could be a real risk of data protection leaks which can cause severe problems for the company and employee(s) involved.

As healthcare professionals, it is important to value the privacy of those you care for and work with. Social media and data law are relatively new areas that we need to become accustomed to and with apps like BeReal and TikTok gaining traction seemingly out of nowhere it reminds us that we need to navigate our online behaviour carefully, especially at the workplace.

Locate a Locum protects your data

By using the Locate a Locum platform, users do not have to be part of WhatsApp groups to be contacted. Our platform uses push notifications to contact locum staff or bank workers of shift availability and any other important updates from the company. We manage all employee data in line with GDPR and all information is protected by each user’s login details.

Get in contact

If you have any questions about how the Locate a Locum platform works to protect employee data get in contact with us here and a member of our team will be happy to help and support you.

Thanks for reading, have a great day!
Locate a Locum Team