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'Smart fridge' to expedite blood supplies

A smart blood fridge, aimed at reducing turnaround times for patients to receive blood, has been launched by the South African National Blood Services (SANBS) and is being piloted at Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital in Johannesburg.

The fridge, called Bophelo, operates as a vending machine and healthcare workers use a unique code sent to them by SANBS to access cross-matched blood.

SANBS CEO Ravi Reddy said Rahima Moosa was selected for the pilot because of its high demand for blood and proximity to the SANBS head office. This allows for the remotely controlled automated fridge to be monitored as a trial for teething problems, reports Health-e News.

Bophelo is expected to improve supply reliability at hospitals that do not have blood banks on site. The SANBS will monitor stocks remotely and make blood available when needed.

“It’s an important technological innovation under the SANBS health strategy and contributes towards improving accessibility to healthcare for all,” said Reddy.

Many hospitals do not have blood banks

SANBS representative Rethabile Melato said they currently have 83 blood banks servicing close to 500 hospitals countrywide.

“But many hospitals don’t have these banks on site as most are in provincial hospitals, and a few in private. We often face challenges of blood delivery, especially in rural areas because of distances.”

The other challenge is blood wastage because of over-ordering, and excessive use of group O blood from emergency fridges. Not having blood banks within hospitals is also costly because facilities use courier services to order and deliver blood.

More smart fridges in the pipeline

After the success of the pilot, 10 more smart fridges will be rolled out to other hospitals, to be determined according to each hospital’s needs and where it is located.

“We hope to see an improved blood issuing process that will reduce the turnaround times for getting blood to patients. Over time this will prove be a life-saving intervention, especially in rural areas where blood will be more readily accessible”, Reddy said.

According to SANBS the smart fridge will help:

  • Decrease the risk of transfusing unmatched emergency units to patients and increase patient safety;
  • Increase traceability of units;
  • Maintain blood products quality and integrity through proper handling and storage;
  • Decrease blood wastage, and
  • Improve management and use of group O blood.

 

Health-e News article – Blood vending machine aims to reduce supply issues (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

‘Most South Africans have had COVID-19' — National Blood Service study

 

Fresh whole blood from a single donor is best

 

When it comes to blood transfusions, ‘fresh is not best’

 

Guidelines on blood transfusion after surgery

 

UK’s NHS could cough up billions in infected blood scandal payments

 

No major side effects from more frequent blood donations

 

 

 

 

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