Shimona ManiShimona Mani
Director, Business Development, acuVena, Blood Bank Software

To start with, could you give a brief overview of the current status of the blood bank industry in India?

According to the latest statistics published by the drug controller, there are nearly two and a half thousand blood banks in the country. Since one requires a license to operate a blood bank, it is a regulated industry. The licensed blood banks broadly come under three categories:
a) Trust based voluntary blood banks which are often independent entities
b) Those within government hospitals
c) Those within private tertiary care hospitals

What are some of the major challenges that the blood bank industry is facing in India?

Since most of the modern blood banks reside in super-specialty tertiary care hospitals, the primary focus becomes serving the internal needs of the hospital. As a result, a large percentage of the donors are replacement donors versus voluntary donors. When a patient is in need of blood, he and his family may face a harrowing experience of looking for safe blood or a replacement donor. Also, there may be an ironic scenario where two blood banks within a short distance of each other want to collaborate and help each other but one of them has to throw away precious blood because of expiry while the other may be in need of it.

In what ways can the adoption of ICTs help address these challenges?

ICT is a great enabler that helps bridge demand supply inequalities. While at the micro level a blood bank software helps streamline donor and stock data making the enterprise more efficient, a product like ours is built on the vision of a converging health ecosystem where all stakeholders get connected via the right information sources. As important as it is that the blood bank performs efficiently, it is equally important how well it can communicate the right information to the right stakeholder in a timely manner. Our software helps us recall donors when they are next eligible to donate, converting them from replacement donors to voluntary donors. We are happy to be a part of this uphill journey of solving a national issue like voluntary donation.

How do you foresee the future of ICT in the blood bank industry?

While most of our customers currently use the enterprise version of the software installed on their premises, we foresee smaller blood banks feeling the need to avail a service hosted elsewhere. We support this technology and can make this happen today. This will truly help us deliver on our original vision of working in an ecosystem.

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