SANBS to digitise 30m blood donation records annually

Processing 800,000 blood donations a year creates quite a paper trail, and considering that lives are literally at stake, the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) is required to follow a rigorous process as documents flow through each phase – from donor, all the way to the patient who benefits from a blood donation.

Massive financial drain

Hazel Bell, senior manager of quality systems at SANBS, notes that: “Up to 30m individual paper records are generated each year, creating enormous complexities for SANBS staff. Considering the total costs of paper – including purchasing, printing, processing, ink costs, transporting, storing and retrieving – this causes a massive financial drain on the organisation.”

Errors in the way some forms were completed hindered SANBS’ ability to collect certain invoices, causing revenue leakage. There was also no simple way to analyse the data on record: surveys were a very time-consuming and laborious process. And then, to compound these issues, a fire in SANBS’ Pinetown warehouse resulted in the destruction of many records.

Project Impilo

In this spirit of going green, and with the goal of enhancing efficiencies, SANBS decided to implement an enterprise information management (EIM) solution that would consist of digitising its operations, migrating away from paper-based processes, and enhancing information management. This project became affectionately known as Project Impilo – a Zulu term meaning health.

The second phase, she adds, is now in full swing: transforming millions of other records relating to blood donation, testing and quality control into digital assets.

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