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11/03/2017

Introducing the ABC Public Policy Council

The newly appointed ABC Board of Directors held its first day-long meeting in Chicago on October 18th. As part of ABC’s re-alignment, the Board has affirmed building a unified advocacy presence for the membership as the central focus of ABC. This will be supported by scientific, medical, technical, quality, and regulatory strength. In doing so, the Board approved several changes to our internal advocacy structure to help drive member engagement, discussion, and ultimately consensus. Read Full Post >

10/27/2017

Are RFPs Still Important?

At the recent ABC Financial Management & Information Technology Workshops, ABC members discussed working on projects to implement or upgrade their software applications, ranging from typical upgrades to complex system conversions and implementation of new systems. These discussions caused me to contemplate the relevance of the request for proposal (RFP) process and if it is still critical to project execution. Read Full Post >

10/20/2017

The Power of Our Collective Strength and Commonality

With the 2017 ABC Financial Management Workshop wrapped up, we can reflect on what an exciting time it was! Houston is such a wonderful and vibrant city and even on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, you could feel the pulse of the city, whose residents won’t be deterred from their recovery. Through attending, we were able to assist in some small way by adding dollars to their economy. For that, we are grateful. Read Full Post >

10/06/2017

Mother Nature Is No Match for the Force of the Blood Community

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria left their mark, but so did blood centers around the nation. Proving once again their resilience and resolve to ensure blood is available when and where it is needed, no matter the circumstances. Read Full Post >

09/29/2017

Challenges: A (not so) Unique Conundrum

I think each of us in our chosen industries believes the challenges we face are new and unique, until we are presented with the opportunity to join our peers in industry groups, which yields exceeding comfort to know our colleagues are often facing similar issues. The ABC Information Technology (IT) Workshop remains an industry-based meeting I make a point of never missing. This workshops never disappoints! Read Full Post >

09/22/2017

Be a Part of the Solution

In March 2017, over 90 global experts in blood safety and development from blood centers, industry, government, and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) gathered in Arlington, Virginia for the Third International Blood Safety Forum, co-sponsored by America’s Blood Centers and Global Healing. The meeting explored ways to increase access to affordable, safe blood for low- and lower-middle income countries (LMIC) in an era when fund-ing from the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund has been redirected from preventing the spread of HIV to diagnosing and treating the estimated 25 million people living with HIV in LMIC. Accessible safe blood is an unfortunate casualty of this shift. Read Full Post >

09/15/2017

If You Are Reading This…

…it means that, despite two major hurricanes in the past three weeks, ABC members assembled a quorum in Atlanta for a special members meeting and passed the bylaws changes needed to achieve the important realignment of ABC, Blood Centers of America (BCA), and HemeXcel. Despite logistical hurdles, 49 of 52 ABC members registered their votes, and an overwhelming majority of 97 percent supported the bylaws changes. Our thoughts and support go to the ABC centers and their staffs in Florida and Texas who endured the storms and now must manage their recovery. Their tasks make ours look a bit pedestrian. Read Full Post >

09/08/2017

Don’t Wait, Plan Ahead For Disasters

September is National Preparedness Month and this year’s theme is “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead, You Can.” Before I had even sat down to write this “Our Space,” we were slapped in the face by Hurricane Harvey and following closely is Hurricane Irma. Neither were your typical run of the mill hurricanes. While Harvey wasn’t the biggest hurricane in history, the fact that it sat right over Houston and dumped trillions of gallons of water in the same area made it unprecedented. Irma is huge and powerful from the get go, a “monster storm.” Read Full Post >

09/01/2017

Every Dark Cloud Has a Silver Lining

The choice of topic for this “Our Space” was without question. The storm’s impact across the Gulf Coast has been heart-wrenching. The rain has stopped and flood waters are receding, but we don’t yet know what the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey will fully be. Read Full Post >

08/25/2017

Build It and They Will Come

Perhaps I’ve been watching a bit too much of the Little League World Series, or perhaps I’m day-dreaming of being on a farm in Iowa instead of in the throes of Capitol Hill, but the movie “Field of Dreams” recently came to mind in relation to our legislative and regulatory advocacy efforts. Before I soil an iconic movie with the taint of our current political environment, I will preface the rest of my article with the caveat that what originally drew me to politics, and keeps me loving it to this day, is the founding principle that citizen advocacy is not only a right, but a responsibility, and any individual can make a difference. Read Full Post >

08/18/2017

Who Saved a Life? You Saved a Life!

“If you don’t pat yourself on the back, no one will.” I cannot find a record of whose quote that is, but I think there is definitely validity to this statement. Lately, I have wondered why we as blood bankers have not tooted our own horns. Why have we not congratulated or celebrated the millions of lives we saved last year? Read Full Post >

08/11/2017

Business is Business

Creative Testing Solutions (CTS), the American Red Cross (ARC), and OneBlood have announced the consolida-tion of their donor testing services into CTS. If my eyeball is accurate, that will concentrate 75 percent of the U.S donor testing volume with a single supplier. The size of the “new” company offers the prospect of economies of scale, not just on prices, but perhaps as leverage with test builders and maybe even with the regulator. No doubt this is a good business decision by the principals of the three organizations. Time will pass and we will understand the impacts. Read Full Post >

07/14/2017

Strengthen Your Cybersecurity Information-Sharing

Cybersecurity is again in the headlines as a result of the most recent global-spanning cyberattack named Petya and its multiple variants. This was not a typical ransomware attack, but disguised to hide its true purpose of data destruction—hence referred to as wiperware. The attack utilized sophisticated techniques to spread built-in system tools to gain credentials. After gaining users credentials, the wiperware targeted other network devices to spread and encrypt them, making them unusable. There was a unique delivery mechanism used for delivery which included infecting an accounting company’s update servers to allow rapid propagation to its clients. There are multiple lessons learned here, including improving patch management, having a good backup and retention program, securing and locking down network devices, and controlling access privileges to built-in tools. Read Full Post >

06/23/2017

The Data Conundrum

Chair of the Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability, Dr. Jay Menitove’s editorial in this month’s Transfusion Supplement is a must read for all of us in the blood community. While highlighting blood collection and utilization trend lines that are disconcerting, he more importantly points to the 2 year delay in having these data as our greatest weakness. Dr. Menitove notes that while the “NBCUS (National Blood Collection and Utilization Survey) reports are a great start, we need timely data more than ever.” Read Full Post >

06/16/2017

Education Investment—Keep it on the Table and Make it Count!

Whether you watched proudly as a loved-one graduated or you participated in a conference, workshop, or other training program, education has been front and center in our lives over the past two months. When we reflect on education in the workplace, we tend to weigh the tangible and intangible reasons to invest in employee growth and education. Last week in Omaha, Neb., 81 attendees from ABC member centers participated in the very successful ABC Technical and Quality (TD/QA) Workshop. Read Full Post >

06/09/2017

World Blood Donor Day

World Blood Donor Day, sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO), is just around the corner on June 14. This year’s theme focuses on blood donations for emergencies. If you’re reading this column then you are well aware the blood that is available for emergent situations and after tragic events is the blood that was already on the shelf at the hospital or blood center, collected and processed days earlier. In fact, recently after the tragic incidents in Manchester, U.K., an official from the NHS Blood and Transplant system implored the thousands of people reading The Guardian who wanted to help should become “regular” blood donors so the country could “make sure we are again ready for any major incident.” One of the stated objectives of World Blood Donor Day is “to build wider public awareness of the need for committed, year-round blood donation, in order to maintain adequate supplies”. While this is indeed something that we all are in alignment with, what is not clear is how we get there. Maybe it’s time to change the conversation. As individual blood centers we try to break through the bombardment of marketing messages donors take in on World Blood Donor Day, but how do we continue with that conversation all year long? How do we leverage the power of our collective efforts through ABC to create the awareness and sense of urgency that turns episodic blood donors into regular blood donors? Read Full Post >

06/02/2017

Formulating Solutions

Not a week goes by that I don’t sit in a congressional office, educating a staff member on the need to address the sustainability of the blood supply and associated issues that impact the daily operations of ABC member blood centers. We discuss both near- and long-term topics, and then hit an inevitable question – “What do you want us to do about it?” Read Full Post >

05/25/2017

One CEO’s Thoughts on the Prospect of Federal Tort Reform

The topic of “tort reform” has been around for quite some time. It has been primarily a state issue. States have ad-dressed this in varying degrees. For full disclosure, I have been involved in the tort reform effort in Mississippi for more than 15 years. At that time, states like West Virginia, Illinois, Louisiana, California, and yes, Mississippi, were considered fertile ground for lawsuits, because certain jurisdictions were considered “friendly” to the personal injury bar. Because of efforts from both the medical and business communities, frivolous and unfounded lawsuits have diminished significantly in Mississippi. Read Full Post >

05/19/2017

Ransomware that Makes Everybody Wanna Cry

Most of you are already inundated with information about this newest form of ransomware that has caused massive impact in healthcare and other operations in 150+ countries. But the purpose of this article is to highlight the importance of setting up a cybersecurity program and a plan to protect your organization and data so you are much better prepared for sophisticated attacks in future. Read Full Post >

05/12/2017

Sudden Change is Not the Enemy

We would like to thank Christine Zambricki for her service to ABC members in support of their lifesaving mission— guaranteeing a safe and adequate blood supply is our bone marrow. Everyone needs to keep positive thoughts for favorable outcomes as she attends to important duties at home. Read Full Post >

05/05/2017

Progress report—a PR update (pathogen reduction, not public relations)

I went to a meeting last week and became focused on the progress underway signaling more options for broad implementation of PR in blood centers. After decades of reading papers and listening to abstracts at conferences, real movement toward reducing known emerging and future infectious risks from transfused blood may be measurable in months to years, not years and years and years. At the risk of being a jinx, it’s a good time to celebrate that. Read Full Post >

04/28/2017

The Perfect Can Be the Enemy of the Good

At the recent International Blood Safety Forum, many of the global representatives reflected on the challenge of building a voluntary, non-remunerated base of blood donors to sustain a safe blood supply. In my work, I have seen a spectrum of high index nations, and low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), grapple with this issue; yet it is particularly problematic in LMICs. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, there is an estimated 40 million unit shortfall in the supply of blood annually. Read Full Post >

04/21/2017

Plus Signs

Some positive next steps are afoot in Washington after the RAND study’s release. The partner efforts of ABC, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and others to promote the sus-tainability of the blood supply and build on the initial work of the RAND study in exploring alternatives in policy and reimbursement is setting wheels in motion here in the Capital. We recently learned the Depart-ment of Health and Human Services (HHS) is planning multi-agency efforts to conduct stress testing in the areas of blood center donor testing, economic feasibility, and surge capacity. Agencies involved in these efforts include the HHS Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), HHS Office of the Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), within the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. Work will begin in these agencies as soon as next month. We have also learned that an internal briefing with the newly appointed acting HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Don Wright, MD, MPH, is scheduled in the coming weeks to discuss the current state of the blood supply and actions needed to ensure its viability. Read Full Post >

04/14/2017

Dear Colleagues,

The 55th ABC Annual Meeting is now behind us. The good feelings generated by another successful fundraising year for the Foundation for America’s Blood Centers (FABC) and superb events are giving space to the realization that we have to do it all over again. Our priorities, in support of ABC’s strategic agenda, are clear: get value from the Data Warehouse, establish a solid advocacy platform with the new administration, and continue to educate our community. Read Full Post >

04/07/2017

A Point of View

I made a few brief comments at the conclusion of the ABC Annual Members Meeting. My comments were meant to assure the membership that as the incoming President, I understand ABC must adapt and change at a pace and in proportion to that of our membership; making the most of the resources available at a time we are all resource constrained. Read Full Post >

03/31/2017

Do You Get What You Pay For? Maybe Not.

You will be greatly surprised that I have issues with the new administration. Most are not directly relevant to the blood community, but one certainly is. The Tr*mp administration proposes an 18 percent decrease in the taxpayer-funded budget at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—a decrease of $5.8 billion. As one who has reviewed many transfusion medicine grant applications for NIH, I can promise you that the best fundamental science being done in our discipline is paid for by NIH. Adding insult to injury, the Fogarty International Center, whose sole purpose is support of international health, is specifically targeted. Read Full Post >

03/17/2017

Blood Operations, Our Special Job; Advocacy For Our Special Needs

The members of ABC are special—we provide a unique service which requires special talents. We have to optimize the safety of donation for donors while ensuring an adequate supply of blood components for patients. We have to balance the need for the highest level of safety of blood to be transfused with the various costs of that safety: testing costs, product loss, donor loss or frustration. We have to do all this within the context of fiscal challenges and price-pressures that are part of the relentless drive to reduce overall medical costs. In short, we are blood operators. Read Full Post >

03/10/2017

A Strategic Focus on Donors

With ABC and ADRP joining forces last fall, we gained not only a tremendous asset in the world of donor recruitment, but strategically positioned ourselves to confront the future challenges of a changing donor demographic. The ABC/ADRP partnership will not only provide first-class educational opportunities to various disciplines at the center-level, but will also ensure that as a community and association we have even greater resources to confront regulatory changes to donor qualifications and an ability to monitor trends on an international level. Read Full Post >

03/03/2017

Premium Essential

A fashionable shop in San Francisco prides itself as a purveyor of "Premium Essentials" with the tagline "Fewer, Better Things." This phrase gives me pause to reflect on the nature of the premium essentials for ABC members. For this week's "Our Space" I have whittled down recent ABC activities to highlight examples of "fewer, better things" that provide premium essentials to our blood centers. Read Full Post >

02/24/2017

I’ve Seen the Light; I Think it’s a Train

It’s no surprise to find “Bacterial Risk Control Strategies for Blood Collection Establishments and Transfusion Services to Enhance the Safety and Availability of Platelets for Transfusion” [emphasis added] on top of the 2017 CBER guidance agenda. It was good to see “Implementation of Pathogen-Reduction (PR) Measures to Reduce the Risks of Transfusion-Transmissible Infections in Transfused Platelets and Plasma” at number two. Our blood center implemented platelet PR nearly a year ago and we’ve been watching the guidance carefully; but what I thought was a light at the end of the tunnel turns out to be a train bearing down on us all. Read Full Post >

02/17/2017

Ways to Contribute to the Cause

As the end of our fiscal year approaches, the Foundation for ABC (FABC) is taking stock of its accomplishments. In the past two years we have raised over $500,000 in support of the ABC Professional Institute (API); funded scholarships for emerging leaders to attend ABC Meetings and Specialty workshops; and revised our bylaws and re-established our relationship with ABC—resulting in a reduction of administrative costs and enabling a larger portion of collected donations to directly fund our projects. Read Full Post >

02/10/2017

A Treasure Trove of Data Awaits

At ABC’s recent board retreat, it became apparent that collating and analyzing member data in an actionable form is a key strategy for ABC. That got me thinking, developing robust data strategy is not unique to ABC as an organization, but is also critical for each of our member blood centers. Data is an ubiquitous commodity generated across an entire organization, amplified by vastly reduced data storage costs over the last few years, resulting in a remarkable amount and variety of data being available. IT applications are also increasingly specialized and focused on different areas of business operations, which results in data becoming ever-increasingly siloed into “data islands.” Read Full Post >

02/03/2017

Getting Ahead of the Game

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have any blood donors, much less millions of them. But ABC does. Advocacy is a key value of ABC, an activity highly prized by our members. One reason for an association to exist is that members share common goals in approaching the rule-makers and budget-makers, especially in a field as regulated as blood banking. But there are many types of advocacy, with different time horizons and probabilities of success. We have an opportunity now to work on “preventive advocacy”- that is, doing something ourselves to prevent or inform future regulations. Read Full Post >

01/27/2017

Avert Your Eyes: Making Sausages, I Mean Policy

The new “Common Rule” for the protection of human research subjects is published and available. The Common Rule governed 15 federal departments and agencies, evolving from the early 1970s and 1980s as the National Research Act. The Department of Health and Human Services’ 45 CFR 46 responded to the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male,” initiated in 1932, that abused research subjects by neither educating them about the studies they were in, nor providing standard-of-care curative treatments as they became available. It entered the code in its most recent incarnation in 1991. A Notice of Proposed Rule Making was published for comment in September 2015, representing a “wish list” from 16 federal entities (excluding the Food and Drug Administration). This first major revision was in response to deaths among contemporary research participants, perceived gaps in the local application of the rule and, critically to me, the changing nature of research, including the proliferation of multisite trials and logarithmic expansion of genomic studies. Among its goals was an extension of protections to subjects in all clinical trials at sites receiving ANY federal funding; an enhancement and streamlining of informed consent; and redefinition of even anonymized human biospecimens as “human subjects” to extend to them a requirement for informed consent and tracking. Read Full Post >

01/20/2017

A Call to Service

This week, a call for committee volunteer members was issued to ABC members for our fiscal years 2018 and 2019. ABC committee volunteers are the backbone of ABC and represent the best and brightest from throughout the industry. The altruistic spirit of these volunteers pushes the needle forward in work that spans all segments of the blood center. Simply put, we couldn’t do it without you. Read Full Post >

01/13/2017

An Investment that Pays the Best Interest

A new year begins with new challenges, a new administration in the White House, new legislators, and a plethora of issues for blood bankers—some new and some ongoing. Against the backdrop of so much change, what is the value of ABC to its members and why must we continue to speak as a single trade organization with one strong voice? Read Full Post >

12/23/2016

A Look Back With a Focus on the Future

President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen.” With this week’s ABC Newsletter covering the priority topics faced by the blood community in 2016, we are reminded of the tremendous work that has been accomplished this year. Perhaps even more important, however, should be the future of our industry and how our last year motivates each of us to face the compounding challenges in 2017 and beyond. Read Full Post >

12/16/2016

Tis the Season!

I have shoveled the first snowfall of the year. Luckily, I finished cleaning up the last of the leaves and exchanged the rake for the snow shovel just as the first flakes of snow started to fall. It came on the heels of the horrific fires in Gatlinburg and Oakland that caused so much death and destruction. I tend to put out disaster preparedness reminders once or twice a year, unfortunately, I get reminded after such tragedies occur. So here it is for Fall 2016. Read Full Post >