Spokane Journal of Business

Providence, INBC team up to streamline blood supply

Improvements to include increased communication, hospital vending machines

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Providence Health Care, the big health-services network here, and Inland Northwest Blood Center say they've entered into a five-year agreement aimed at streamlining blood-management services and improving patient care.

The two organizations say a new electronic interface that will launch Oct. 26 will help improve communications between Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children's Hospital, Providence Holy Family Hospital, and the blood center.

The interface will allow secure, real-time blood inventory management between Epic, a new information system currently being rolled out in the hospitals, and the blood center's transfusion services database, they say.

The software interface, though, represents just the first phase of the collaboration, they say. A larger piece of the streamlining effort will occur early next year and will involve the installation of a computerized storage system, with a HemoSafe blood-product vending machine at each of the hospitals.

"The HemoSafe is one part of a secure, computerized storage system that will allow compatible blood to remain on-site at the hospital," says Jeff Bryant, the blood center's president and CEO, in a press release announcing the agreement.

Currently, when a patient at one of the hospitals needs blood, the hospital looks to the blood center for the supply. However, before a transfusion can take place, the blood center must perform compatibility testing to ensure the right blood type and right blood product is matched for the patient.

Under the new system, when the blood center's transfusion laboratory receives a patient's blood sample, it will be accompanied by a secure electronic order that can be matched to a product already onsite at the hospital's Hemosafe, the organizations say. The blood center then can send an immediate alert to the hospital about which unit or units to transfuse, ensuring the right blood for the right patient, they say.

When a hospital staff member removes a unit of blood from the HemoSafe, the vending machine will send an electronic message back to the blood center.

Gerard Fischer, Providence Health Care's senior director for ancillary services, says in the press release that the new system will help reduce the delay between ordering blood and the actual transfusions. Fischer says, "It also provides assurance to patients, families, and physicians that there is a ready supply of blood available at our fingertips."

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