How IoT Helps Blood Banks Reduce Waste and Save Lives

Posted by on Sep 13, 2018 5:00:00 AM Carmi Brandis  
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Hospitals and healthcare providers operate under constant shortages of blood for transfusions. According to America’s Blood Centers, one in seven people who enter a hospital require a blood transfusion, and less than 10% of those eligible to donate blood do so annually. Red blood cells have a maximum shelf life of 42 days, blood platelets last only five days, and donated units must be kept refrigerated under specific conditions at all times to avoid premature expiration.

Seasonal stressors also have a negative impact on the amount of blood donated. According to the American Red Cross, harsh winter weather and a worse-than-usual flu season contributed to around 28,000 fewer donations than what was needed in November and December 2017. In the first week of January 2018, a bomb cyclone in the Northeast United States caused the cancellation of more than 150 blood drives and more than 5,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected.

Blood banks routinely focus on enhancing facility storage capacity and ensuring a positive donor experience to encourage repeat donations and reduce shortages. However, the threat of shortages is looming constantly, so it is imperative for blood banks to manage their available supply as tightly as possible to avoid unnecessary waste. The Internet of Things (IoT) has allowed for innovative, evidence-based approaches that optimize patient safety and provide measurable enhancements to current blood bank operations.

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Automating Supply Management with 24/7 Real-Time Monitoring

Due to the short shelf life of blood and the difficulty of maintaining proper storage conditions, many units expire before they are able to be used. According to a report from Asian Age, 130,000 liters of blood expired between 2011 and 2015 at blood banks in Mumbai, India alone. Though some blood waste is likely to be inevitable, there are a number of efficiency measures that IoT solutions can provide to reduce the amount of blood wasted.

Currently, most blood bank operations, such as refrigerator temperature and inventory, are monitored manually. By implementing wireless IoT sensors connected to an automated management platform, blood banks can keep track of storage quantity, blood types, temperature, and other metrics that can be published online for hospitals and other healthcare providers. With storage temperature monitored continuously in real time, fluctuations can be detected before they endanger the supply. If temperature drops below or rises above a certain pre-set limit, the system will trigger an alert for operators to address the issue and save the units from expiration. Area blood banks also can be networked through IoT connectivity so that requests are forwarded automatically to the nearest bank in case of a shortage.

Using IoT Connectivity to Enable More Effective Donations

In many emergencies, the need for blood is immediate so IoT developers currently are exploring app-based solutions that can connect doctors to donors in real time. In this solution, accredited doctors can upload their patient requirements―including which blood types are needed and whether the need is standard, urgent, or critical—and push the alert to area donors. The donors then can visit a donor clinic to fulfill the need immediately. 

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Successful Blood Bank and Donor Management with Aeris IoT

Aeris provides cellular connectivity and IoT solutions that enable blood banks to continuously monitor supply and respond to challenges in real time. With an automated IoT monitoring system accessible to operators through a single management platform, blood banks can mitigate potential risks, identify opportunities for improvement, and utilize holistic insights that could save lives.

To read more about how Aeris helps blood banks streamline operations, read our industry brief, Increasing the Efficiency and Effectiveness of the Blood Bank Management System to discover how IoT can improve your blood bank operations. If additional information is needed, then contact Aeris today.

Topics: blood banks, IoT Connectivity management, blood management, cold storage, temperature controls