ICT in Blood Banking Sector

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IT will play a big role in development of blood banks and blood storage units
By Dr Harish Jachak, Manager Presales and Marketing, Birlamedisoft Pvt Ltd

We know that healthcare industry in India is highly unregulated. But this may not come true in case of blood banks. They, on the other hand, are under regulation.Also, nowadays opening a blood bank has become very difficult. If you ask me about growth of blood banks, I would say, the growth is slow. On top of that blood banking facilities are limited to major cities only. We need more storage units in small towns.
These regulations and statutory requirements make the role of ICT in blood bank very important. Blood bank employees need to maintain at least 10 to 15 different types of registers and records for reporting purpose.Since there are many regulators and each has different formats for their records, this process of record keeping is very time consuming and cumbersome.

Challenges for blood bank
Some major challenges for blood banks, I would summarise as follows:
• Safer blood supply and storage comes at higher costs.
• Growing number of infections that transmit through blood.
• Customer expectations of quality and safety.
• Strict regulations.
• Motivating people to donate blood.In other words maintaining continuous supply.
• Blood transport and storage facilities.
• Increasing longevity of blood and  blood components
• Wastage of blood and blood components.
• Appealing doctors to prescribe components and encouraging blood banks to prepare blood components.This should optimally utilise the scarce whole blood.

How ICT could help
Proper implementation of ICT can change for good how blood banks function.
• Bar coding and scanning technology can reduce reporting errors.
• Timely reminders of expiring bags,with identification of bags can make staff to distribute older bags first (FIFO model). This will not only reduce cost of storage but also save money lost with discarded bags.
• Real time status of available stock in storage centres and/or blood bank will help in maintaining optimal level of usable bags.
• Online data of donors would be helpful in identifying habitual donors,maintaining contact list in case of emergency, etc.
• Forecasting of blood demand or possible stock-outs in near future will help blood banks to plan and replenish stock well in advance by arranging blood donation camps.
• Interfacing with machines can be done so there remains no need of manual entry of test results. Bar code and stickers printing further
reduces any chances of human error.
• Web based blood banks information management systems will allow the users to enter the data of donors and bags at the point of
collection. Otherwise staffs have to enter data once they come to centre form any camp. This results in duplication of efforts.
• Well formatted reports can suffice requirement of any regulating agency. No need of repeating the entries in each report.
• Full array of MIS reports for administrators of blood bank facilities.
• Customer support features like SMS, online booking of blood for planned surgeries, etc. will definitely lead to customer satisfaction.

“Role of Government and regulators such as National AIDS Control Organisaion and State AIDS Control Societies is very critical. Government should certainly look into matters of data banking, security of data and standardisation of records”

What we do?
We are developers of IT solutions for healthcare industry, providing services to small to large hospitals,diagnostics centres, blood banks, imaging centres, pharmacy shops and healthcare operations of big indus trial plants.
We have Information ManagementSystem for blood banks, both online and offline, catering to some of the leading blood banks in their respective areas. By making process of registration, blood collection, testing and cross matching, storage of blood bags according to expiry date,blood groups, components, donor and blood bag database, monitored distribution of blood bags and reporting of adverse reactions automated we are making life easy for our clients.
As I said earlier reporting is very critical part of blood bank management, our online and offline blood baning management software gives more than 40 different types of reports and records. This allows managers to monitor all functions of blood bank. Donor tracking has been made so easy that blood bank can have large database of emergency donors handy. Also their health profile is maintained to avoid infected blood entry into system at first check point.
Identification and tracking system adminof bags gives zero chances to miss-reporting or wrong supply of blood.

What’s in future?
I see great scope of business expansion in blood transfusion related business,since most of the blood banks are running without any automation or something just for billing purpose.Blood bank, collection centres and storage units will talk to each otherand will maintain continuous availability of life saving fluid. Hospitals would be able to check status of availabilityof blood of desired group or the components online and how long will it take to reach them.
Confidentiality of donor/receiver data would be of utmost importance and efforts would be placed to protect them. In future I would like to see minimal wastage of precious blood.This could be achieved by timely utilisation of near expiry stock, increased usage of components and keeping the supply (donors) within timely reach whenever there is demand.
Role of Government and regulators such as NACO and State AIDS Control Societies is very critical. Government should certainly look into matters of data banking, security of data, standardisation of records,sample and blood bags tracking a policy matter.
With advancement of newer technology in collection, separation of components and storage of blood,ICT had already entered blood banks.Need of the hour is a system for managing the information.

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