Red Cross Launches First Phase of Technology Upgrade at Blood Drives

April 6, 2011

The American Red Cross has launched a major initiative to modernize Biomedical Services and ensure the organization will meet the needs of future generations. The Biomedical Architecture program – known as BioArch – will help the Red Cross continue to carry out its mission of providing blood and blood products of the highest possible quality.

The Greater Alleghenies Region, headquartered in Johnstown, Pa., is the second of 36 Red Cross blood centers to implement the initial phase.

The first phase of BioArch upgrades the software and computer equipment used during blood drives, including laptop computers, handheld units and printers. “The new equipment includes leading-edge technology that meets industry standards for reliability and information security,” said John A. Hagins, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Alleghenies Region.

The new technology improves how the Red Cross collects data from blood donors and tracks each unit of blood donated. The Red Cross will be able to access donor information quickly and identify more easily any information that would prevent a donor from being able to donate that day, such as if a donor recently vacationed in an area with malaria risk.

Red Cross blood drives will use a wireless network to link the Red Cross equipment. During the weeks of March 21 and 28, Greater Alleghenies blood drive staff were trained to set up and connect the wireless network. Security measures are in place to protect unauthorized users from accessing that network.

The upgrade in technology helps reduce manual data-entry during a drive and moves the Red Cross toward paperless blood drives. Many blood drives will utilize functionality that allows Red Cross staff to monitor queue times and the overall length of each donation, which may lead to future efficiencies. 

BioArch consists of three phases and is one of the largest initiatives ever launched by the Red Cross. It will require a very large investment in time, money and resources; however, the project will help the Red Cross better serve the patients and donors who count on us to maintain an adequate and safe blood supply.

Throughout this process, the Red Cross will monitor blood inventory levels carefully to ensure community needs continue to be met.

During the second phase of BioArch, which is scheduled to begin within the next year, the Red Cross will completely replace an aging computer system. This effort will increase flexibility to meet changing business needs, simplify processes and achieve standardization and improve automated controls

The Red Cross will also convert to international standards for labeling blood products called “ISBT 128” during this phase. “ISBT” stands for “International Society of Blood Transfusion” and “128” represents the new barcode used on the labels. ISBT 128 labels are used throughout the blood banking and healthcare community and are recognizable around the globe. 

The third phase of BioArch focuses on managing customer service. It will provide a singly, industry-standard data management system for blood donors and sponsors, and offer new systems that will allow donors to choose the ways they prefer to be contacted.

The American Red Cross plays an important role in the nation’s health care system. It is the largest single supplier of blood and blood products in the United States, collecting and processing more than 40 percent of the blood supply and distributing it to approximately 3,000 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide.

The Red Cross also plays a leading role in protecting the safety of donors and patients and increasing the availability of blood. It has been among the first to help develop and implement testing for infectious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV, maintains five state-of-the-art national testing labs, and is frequently a major contributor to clinical trials to improve blood safety.

How to Donate Blood

To schedule an appointment to donate, please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit for more information. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.

About the American Red Cross

The Greater Alleghenies Region serves 100 counties in Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, and needs to collect about 1,000 units of blood and platelets a day to meet patient need in more than 90 hospitals.In addition to supplying nearly half of the nation’s blood, the American Red Cross teaches lifesaving skills, provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization—not a government agency—and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.