Yes, I know the primary reason that we “do what we do” is to help connect donors and patients by providing life-saving blood products. In this case, I’m asking a less meaningful, but in some ways perhaps more provocative, question – How are blood centers organized and will that organizational structure allow us to continue to “do what we do” best? I’ve been in blood banking for nearly a quarter century, yet I did not really seriously wrestle with this question until recently. Perhaps my reticence stemmed from needing a certain level of predictability in how I saw our role in the community, or that previous challenges did not require us to tackle these types of questions. However, I believe those answers are critical now.
In reality, many ABC centers have already faced this question, as evidenced by decisions to outsource infectious disease donor testing, form an effective insurance company to serve the participating centers, or form effective group purchasing organizations. Some centers have formed alliances or partnerships with fellow blood centers to deliver a function or service within their operations more effectively and efficiently. These are great examples of working together in the spirit of cooperating to compete, and support the notion that some of our functions are more easily “scalable” in their delivery.
I suppose what I am really wondering is if there are some dramatically different solutions that should be assessed as we attempt to figure out how to best deliver on our mission. Are there other companies or organizations outside of blood banking specializing in one or more of the functions we perform, with which we could pursue a broad-based partnership? For instance, perhaps blood centers could work with a logistics or management company to handle movement of test tubes and delivery/rotation of blood products. Or maybe there are other organizations that could benefit from our expertise, such as our years of experience in maintaining a healthy donor population. This expertise might be useful as hospitals shift from delivering healthcare to sick people, to keeping communities healthy.
Despite the angst I know many of us feel as we face the challenges ahead, I am truly excited to see what creative solutions come out of the associations’ member blood centers. The spirit of innovation and the incubation of ideas among members are trademark characteristics of ABC’s collaborative efforts and reflect the continued collegial tendencies that exist in an extremely competitive environment.
Dave Green, Board President; firstname.lastname@example.org