ICT Is Useful in Blood Banks

GautamDr Gautam Wankhede,
Director-Medical Affairs, Alliance Transfusion Pvt Ltd

shares his insight on the upcoming trend of blood banking sector

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

In terms of revenue, a study in 2009 had put the value of the Indian blood transfusion services at about `617 Crore. The industry has the potential to be a much bigger one revenue-wise. However, blood banking is perhaps the only branch of medicine which is very closely regulated and controlled by Government policies. This also includes ceiling on prices that blood banks can charge for blood and other services, thus restricting the overall revenue share of this sector when compared to other medical industry sectors. However, with many blood banks getting greater flexibility in pricing and offering tests and services at par with the best in the world, the blood banking industry should now be much bigger than the figure quoted above.

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

India has a deficit of blood supply in the range of 20 percent to 40 percent. In most districts, blood banks often do not have enough stocks to meet the demands. Another challenge is the lack of a centralised system that coordinates or monitors the services provided by various blood banking units in the country. For example, in the UK, there are hundreds of blood collection and donor recruitment centres, but the testing/processing is restricted to just a handful of centres spread across the country. This ensures that the testing/ processing is standardised and automated. The lack of standardisation in India means that the level of services can vary substantially. The strict control maintained by the Government over pricing of blood and related services is another major challenge. For example, in India, a cardiologist or an oncologist can bring in the latest and most advanced therapy/diagnostic test and charge the patient for the new treatment option, which as a rule will be more expensive. However, the blood banking industry finds it difficult to implement any new state of the art tests/ services because the ceiling leaves them with very little money for investment in new technologies or research.

In what ways can the adoption of ICT help address improving the supply chain management of blood banks, management of donors and blood bags database?

The blood banking sector in India has only recently accepted the use of ICT. A software based Blood Bank Management System (BBMS) can help the blood transfusion in many ways:

  • Enables fast, easy and effective communication with donors (for appointments, conveying camp details and donor reports) and blood donation camp organisers. This will result in increasing voluntary repeat blood donations rates
  • Real time status of stocks, alerts about near expiry/expired stocks, quarantine management, inventory being sent to satellite centres/ storage centres will help in better and effective stock utilisation and supply chain management
  • With all records available for audit and analysis, better planning and resource allocation/utilisation can be done.

Please tell us about the technology solutions that your company is offering to the blood bank industry?

Alliance Transfusion has a strong commercial understanding of the market and also is backed by specialised clinical knowledge of the field.
We have launched blood bank Management and Surveillance System; AT Strides. This has been successfully installed in more than 25 blood banks across India. The biggest advantage of this system is the surveillance capabilities during storage and transport of blood.
Alliance Transfusion has also recently introduced TimeStrip Time and Temperature monitoring devices to be used on blood bags.

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