data-protectionExco InTouch, the leading provider of patient engagement and data capture solutions for clinical research and healthcare providers, has announced the formation of a strategic partnership with Regulatory Strategies, experts in data protection and compliance.

This initiative is in response to upcoming reforms that are designed to further strengthen the data protection policies, procedures, systems and controls of UK and other European organizations.

The formal partnership enables Exco InTouch to step up to the regulatory challenge and to immediately satisfy mandatory requirements that aren’t expected to come into force until 2018. Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a range of companies responsible for handling sensitive data will be required to have Data Protection Officers in place by this 2-year deadline.

Dale Jessop, Chief Technology Officer at Exco InTouch, remarked: “At Exco InTouch, we take data protection very seriously indeed. A key factor underpinning our business has been the need to ensure that we meet – and exceed – data regulation requirements across all our global operations. This is why we have taken the decision to partner with Regulatory Strategies to take on the role of our Data Protection Officer.”

Founder and Director of Regulatory Strategies, Mike Bradford, commented: “the imminent changes to the data regulation environment present some of the most fundamental challenges faced every day by all organizations, irrespective of size or sector.”

The market understands the need to embed data protection into their businesses. However, in the healthcare sector, typically under the current EU Data Protection Directive and US HIPAA privacy rules, the compliance bar is now being set much higher, with fines for non-compliance of up to 20 million euros or 4% of worldwide annual turnover.

The need for organizations to be taking steps at this stage to ensure compliance with the new data protection regime was highlighted by Information Commissioner Christopher Graham at the ICO’s annual Data Protection Practitioners’ Conference on 14 March of this year. He stated that people have never been so aware of what their personal data is, and never cared so much about how it is used.

Consequently, the law is changing to reflect this and EU data protection reforms promise to be the biggest shake up for consumers’ data protection rights for three decades. “Organizations simply cannot afford to fall behind. We know Data Protection Officers understand this, and we know they sometimes find their views ignored in the boardroom. The new law gives directors 20 million reasons to start listening,” he added.

Exco InTouch has recognized this and taken steps to ensure its position as a trusted custodian of sensitive medical and health data on behalf of its global clients and patients remains at the forefront of its strategy in respect of ensuring ‘best in class’ data protection and regulatory compliance.

Tim Davis, CEO and founder of Exco InTouch, commented: “Meeting the highest regulatory standards is a key commitment of our company. In achieving this, we have had the foresight to take an industry lead in compliance. Consequently, we have formed this alliance with Regulatory Strategies to be the first in our sector to comply with the need to engage and install Data Protection Officers years before the actual deadline has to be met. We will continue to invest in data protection and compliance to ensure that Exco InTouch remains at the forefront of clinical research and healthcare technology.”