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.
Essential to ABC’s change is to focus on activities best undertaken in the interest of all member blood operators in the areas of greatest impact and importance. To that end, I would put Scientific, Medical and Technical (SMT) activities at the top of the list-quality and regulatory are included in this rubric. These SMT issues are not unique to blood operations. However, our arguably unique perspective on these issues is critically important and best done in collaboration with one another, to support the quality, safety, and availability of the U.S. blood supply. This is, I believe the primary domain of ABC, from which all other activities emanate.
The search and selection of a new ABC Chief Medical Officer to lead our SMT activities is essential to ABC’s continued success. Dr. Celso Bianco was the first medical doctor to hold a senior staff position at ABC, hired in August 2000. Dr. Louis Katz followed him in September 2012. Their 17-year leadership of ABC’s scientific, medical, technical, quality, and regulatory efforts and representation of ABC and its member blood centers before governmental and regulatory agencies has been fundamental to ABC’s work.
Equally important to SMT is the continued strength and knowledge of blood operations within ABC and the invaluable contributions of time and expertise of the member blood centers. We must invite, broaden, and build member participation and contribution to SMT activities.
Data is fundamental to SMT, as well as quality, safety, and availability of the blood supply. Good progress on the ABC Data Warehouse has been made, but better funding and more work are required. ABC is actively exploring opportunities and alternatives to achieve both near and longer term goals.
The need for a strong voice in advocacy, regulatory, legislative, hospital and donor all naturally follow. But, the strength of our voice is rooted in fact-based science, medicine, and technical information-both to inform our members and other stakeholders, as well as inform policy makers. A stronger SMT foundation supports a stronger advocacy voice.
Two friends, both MDs, offered comments that rang true for me. One noted, “scientific, medical, and technical realities underpin most of the major decisions we must make in the blood banking industry.” The other, “SMT provides a forum for educating CEOs.” I agree with the former and fully appreciate the latter.
I look forward to the months and year ahead. I’m always interested in your comments, input, and perspective.
Martin Grable; Board President; firstname.lastname@example.org