What are some of the major challenges that the Blood Bank industry is currently facing in India?
As per my vision, following are some of the major challenges for the industry:
• Component Separation: In India, nearly 70 percent of the units issued by blood banks are whole blood, compared to around 10 percent in advanced countries. The lack of ability to separate the components in the whole blood not only affects the supply but also the patients’ health as they are administered with unnecessary components.
• End-to-End Traceability: Although blood banks have adopted modern techniques, end-to-end traceability from source to consumer is still an elusive goal for many stakeholders.
• Stock Management: Blood banks face a difficult situation in maintaining the reserves of “Rare Blood Groups” as timely information cannot be made available to recipients. Also, there are groups that always require “Fresh Blood”. Though they are doing their best, service providers in the blood bank find it difficult to continuously update the fresh blood registers as definitions of “Fresh Blood” varies, thereby causing problems.
• Supply Chain Management: Problems exist in terms of storage capability over time and the ability to move units from low demand to high demand centres to avoid outdating. Central blood banks need the capability to understand trends to meaningfully identify demand and set up a dependable supply chain system to serve the cause.
In what ways can the adoption of Information and Communication Technology help address these challenges?
ICT can be used to provide predictable outcomes, which can be monitored efficiently to further improve the processes. A virtuous closed loop is the key in the blood management process flow, which includes Accountable Sourcing – Secure Storage of Safe Blood – Need Identification – Safe Supply – Efficient Transfusion – Responsible Disposal.
Blood Bank solutions offered by Electronic Health Record (EHR) vendors exponentially increase the efficiency to help identify and manage all the blood components from the donor to recipient, thereby realising the dream of closed loop blood component management. The ecosystem of the blood supply chain stakeholders consists of different players operating in silos. Consequently, collaboration and interoperability are key considerations for safe and efficient management of the environment. The process of updating status of blood units can be easily automated. This helps to reduce the burden on the service provider in the blood banks. Real-time updates accentuate the service ability, safety of blood supply, thus optimising usage and avoiding waste.
What technology solution is your company offering to the blood bank industry?
The Blood Bank module in Napier’s EHR has a functionally rich suite of products that have been successfully deployed and in some hospitals for over 16 years.
These include: Donor Registry, Donor Clinic Management, Quarantine Management, Stock and Storage Management system, Supply Chain management, Order Management, Disposal Management, Rare Blood & Priority Management, Quality Management.
Napier’s Blood Bank Solution has ready interfaces for leading manufacturers of centrifuges and irradiators. It also supports multiple mobile devices as many of the activities involve recording data either at point of sourcing, point of store or point of care.
How has your experience been in dealing with blood bank owners and vendors so far?
Numerous change management issues were faced in ensuring a collaborative approach with stakeholders such as blood banks, hospital and other entities for efficient and safe transfusion. Ensuring higher quality reduces cost in the long run by avoiding contamination, eliminating systems’ failure and ensuring that right component reaches the right patient at the right time.
Thanks to the World Health Organization, the attitudes are changing. Stringent guidelines at the national level are helping blood banks to move to a “safety first” model. The good news is that these operational changes are at an inflexion point and we can expect a much greater adoption of technology to support the quality of care.