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Friendly Tech Solution Aims to Spur Blood Donations

By Miriam Bello | Mon, 09/20/2021 - 10:11

Q: Blood donation in Mexico is trending lower. How is Blooders countering this situation?

A: We continue to carry out external campaigns with allies that allow us to visit their companies to encourage donations, although a new challenge is the migration of many companies to home office modalities, which are now permanent in some cases. We had established new on-site campaigns but these are not the same because people need to come to the location instead of us going to them. Understanding this new scenario, we launched a software for blood banks called SAFTÜ to make smart use of their databases, which we first had to digitalize, and to reach out to their previous donors. We ran a study in Colombia with SAFTÜ and found that blood donation has a georeferenced aspect to it. This information allowed us to begin donation campaigns with a much clearer target. Through our system, we are able to find donors through blood type or type of donation, among other factors. This study has allowed us to identify that donors prefer private sites over public facilities. However, at-home donation is one of the most successful methods.

Q: How are you studying patterns of donation in Mexico?

A: We want to implement this study in Mexico but the poor quality and absence of databases is a large barrier to this and other healthcare studies. Mexico needs to strengthen its databases in general but especially those in healthcare. Digitalizing blood banks is essential to propel donation. Contacting the donor after the process has allowed Blooders to provide a good donation experience and we now realize its potential to encourage future donations.

Alongside one of our partners, we offered webinars on connecting with donors and creating approach strategies for blood banks. External donation campaigns, in which blood banks pay donors, are common in Mexico but this process did not provide as good a donation experience. It is unacceptable to deliver poor donation experiences for donors. This includes having the donor wait for many hours. SAFTÜ offers online scheduling for blood donation to improve the donation process and lets donors avoid crowds. 

During the hardest months of the pandemic, we allied with Uber to offer free trips to people donating blood in Mexico City, Queretaro, Monterey and Guadalajara. Blooders understood that the pandemic would last a while, so we began to adapt through technology to better connect donors.

Q: What is Mexico’s regulation regarding donations?

A: NOM-253 sets the standards for donation and demands health tests to ensure the viability of the donation. The regulation requires that a donor’s blood sample be tested for hepatitis, HIV, dengue or malaria, among other conditions. The norm also requires doctors to interview donors to learn their habits before approving the donation. By choosing the right donor, we take care of the recipient.

Guaranteeing transparency during the interview is complex because the person must be evaluated and recorded, which involves data-protection and complicates the process of donation. SAFTÜ integrates the information from different blood banks to identify if a person has been rejected by other banks. By knowing a person’s history with other banks, we are able to determine blood safety much more effectively.

Q: Blooders promotes the use of social media as a tool for blood banks. How have these digital strategies helped Blooders grow?

A: We have tried to partner with Facebook but we have not been able to close the deal for different reasons. Facebook integrated a donation option into its menu but their service is lacking. Many blood banks that signed up with Facebook indicated a lack of communication through the entire implementation system. Facebook allowed a scheduling option but did not provide traceability on the donation, so there was no data on whether the donation happened. For that reason, the tool does not have success-rate data.

Blooders, on the other hand, does integrate social media channels from the blood banks and provides a follow-up to trace the success rate of our platform, which is the true value of the process. We have understood that when working with blood banks, their social media use is different and you have to approach them individually to create an effective strategy for donation. Technology is a tool but we need to ensure it meets our targets, otherwise it does not have an impact.

Q: When dealing with digital personal patient records, how does Blooders protect the data from cyberthreats or misuse of information?

A: We have strict internal policies to secure the data we collect through both Blooders and SAFTÜ. We have partnered with Microsoft’s Azure to manage our health database and we follow and comply with HIPAA rules.

Q: What actions could Mexico take to achieve a culture of donation for research?

A: There is much to do in this regard. The first step would be to actually have donors. Next, we would need to gentrify donations, foment investment for the process and build an effective data system that integrates countrywide results.

Q: What growth strategies will Blooders implement to reach more hospitals, companies and blood banks in Mexico?

A: We are working with 50 clients on SAFTÜ and we have already introduced the tool in Colombia. We are looking for an investment round to expand in Latin America in 2022.

We are interested in approaching companies that work with electronic clinical records and digital hospital management because they generally do not have a relationship with blood banks, so we can be a helpful service for their platforms.

 

Blooders is a digital platform created to promote blood donation. It connects donors and patients through a webpage, an app, social media and a blog that facilitates and accelerates the donation process.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst