Ensuring Data Security and Accessibility in Biomedical Research with Flywheel

By March 9, 2021March 15th, 2021Insights

Software for managing clinical research data must solve two critical challenges. First, the software must operate securely.  Securing data is an ongoing challenge for the industry, as documented in a recent investigation conducted by CybelAngel:  They discovered more than 45 million medical images, many that included personal health information (PHI) to be accessible through unprotected Internet-facing servers.  Many of the exposures were via network-attached storage (NAS) devices and PACS systems in common use at hospitals and research institutions.

A second imperative for managing clinical research data is to help researchers accumulate and share carefully curated data.  Machine learning (ML), for example, requires that datasets be accessible to teams of collaborators in order to effectively train and deploy models.  To take advantage of the progress in ML will require coordinated efforts in data management, which are now being proposed by leading professional organizations.

Allowing Secure Collaboration While Reducing Data Security Risk 

Flywheel delivers a solution that ensures both data security and accessibility. We support FAIR principles for data management along with a host of computational management technologies that enable researchers to share methods and carry out reproducible research.

From its inception, Flywheel was designed to ensure the data are secured from malicious attack or theft.   As a SOC 2 certified organization, our commitment to data security is paramount. By meeting these auditing criteria, we ensure that our data procedures and systems meet the highest standards of security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.

Flywheel has a secure collaboration system that controls user access to each project.  The system allows project administrators to specify which approved collaborators, from approved institutions,  have access to data. At a more granular level, individual users can be assigned specific role-based permissions that define exactly which actions the user can take. For example, one user can be permitted only to view the data; another user might be permitted to run analyses, modify or download data.  Because project personnel change throughout a project’s life cycle, the Flywheel is designed so that roles can be securely modified using an easy-to-use web interface.

Flywheel’s secure collaboration tools are robust, extensive, and flexible. Researchers who would like to share their data can add collaborators to a project with precisely defined permissions.  Or, if the project administrator is ready to share the data openly – say for inspection by a regulatory agency or for open science –  Flywheel has many tools for exporting and providing curated and large datasets to others.

To learn how Flywheel can help accelerate research collaboration while ensuring privacy and security, please contact us to schedule a demo.

Jeff Meier

Jeff Meier

Product Manager at Flywheel