Data Security: Securing Community Healthcare Data and Devices

David Reynolds
David Reynolds

Guest post by David Reynolds, IT systems manager, Rhode Island Blood Center.

Maintaining blood supplies to meet the needs of the hospitals in the region is a key mandate for the Rhode Island Blood Center. The Center collects 250 pints of blood from donors to meet this commitment. To make it easy for donors, more than 3,000 mobile blood drives are held annually throughout the community.

While we have nurses and lab technicians to take care of the donors’ physical needs, it is my job as the IT Systems Manager at Rhode Island Blood Center to take care of their personal information. We gather this information from each donor at the mobile clinics and store it on laptops, so it is essential that we have safeguards in place to ensure the data is properly secured.

Data security is a key concern for the majority of healthcare organizations in the US.  And like most organizations, Rhode Island Blood Center must follow regulatory guidelines and protect patient data.

My department is responsible for the IT and telecommunications equipment used at the remote blood drives and the six Center locations. The typical set-up includes a large number of Center-owned laptops where donor information is stored.

While most people arrive at a clinic and see the positive results of a community coming together and helping each other – all I see are laptops loaded with confidential information for which Rhode Island Blood Center is ultimately responsible. I know if even one laptop is lost or stolen, confidential donor information could be at risk.

Data at Risk

Reviewing daily healthcare news, it is clear that data breaches are a huge issue for healthcare organizations across the US, but bad press isn’t the only issue – many organizations face large non-compliance fines and damage to their reputation that can never be restored.

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