This is a companion article to the feature, “Building a Safer Blood Supply.”
Blood bank analytics are technology systems that enable health systems to efficiently and effectively implement blood program management initiatives. Such analytics systems employ software to gather data regarding physicians’ use of transfusions in various settings, over time, and according to guidelines linked to the results of laboratory testing—such as a patient’s hemoglobin levels.
Such systems are critical both for feeding back their results to clinicians so that they can improve their transfusion prescribing practices, and for demonstrating to program executives where progress has been made.
Blood bank analytics also contribute to inventory management of blood supplies, such as ensuring the bank has the optimal number of fresh products available for clinical use. These analytics are also critical for eliminating waste.
Pathologists are often in charge of blood bank management, and need to have an understanding of the capabilities that an analytics system should have to support such programs, says Eleanor Herriman, MD, MBA, chief medical informatics officer at Viewics Inc, Sunnyvale, Calif.1 Key features of a blood program analytics system should include the following:
- Links required data sources, including the blood bank, clinical laboratory, and clinical data
- Automates analytics with minimal labor
- Supports multidisciplinary programs and users
- Delivers in real time
Links between the blood bank and clinical laboratories should start with clinical chemistry data, but can expand beyond that, says Herriman. “Clearly, if you want to be measuring infections, you need microbiology. And the system will also need clinical data from the provider’s electronic medical record.”
“Obviously, you can’t launch a program like this if you don’t have a high degree of automation. It’s just too much data, too many patients,” says Herriman. “Transfusions are widespread across surgery and medicine, so an analytics system has to have a high degree of automation.”
“Also, the system needs to support the fact that a blood program is going to be multidisciplinary,” says Herriman. It’s going to be used by clinicians, the blood bank, and the lab, so it has to enable and support a number of different users.”
“Finally, the system has to enable real-time data analysis,” Herriman adds. “A retrospective look is not as useful. There has to be some capability to look at things within minutes or hours.”
1. Herriman E. Essential analytics capabilities for facilities developing blood management programs [online]. Sunnyvale, Calif: Viewics Inc, 2016. Available at: https://viewics.com/blog/blood-program-analytics-capabilities. Accessed September 14, 2016.