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Text messages will alert Swedish blood donors when they've saved lives

By Tim Sandle     Jun 12, 2015 in Health
Stockholm - The Swedish Blood Alliance has come up with a new way to maintain the loyalty of blood donors: thanking them by text messaging. The new way of communication seems to be working, with Swedes returning to donate at a higher rate.
Throughout the world blood services are struggling to recruit blood donors, whether this is the for-profit U.S. system where donors are paid, or voluntary "altruistic" services where people donate for free, as with most of Europe. Digital Journal reported recently that the U.K. blood service was alarmed because blood stocks were running low.
In Sweden, the Swedish Blood Alliance (SweBA) has taken a different approach encouraging blood donors to remain loyal. When someone has donated blood, they now receive a special "thank you" message. To add to this, when the donated blood has been used, the donor gets a message informing them that the blood is being used with a patient. Donors can even go to a website and track how much of their donated blood has been used and how much is remaining. The text-based system can also be used to inform donors that stocks of a certain blood group are running low.
Discussing the innovation with The Independent, Karolina Blom Wiberg, representing the Stockholm blood service said: "We are constantly trying to develop ways to express [donors'] importance. We want to give them feed back on their effort, and we find this is a good way to do that."
With blood supplies there are two issues. The first is that fewer people are signing up for blood donation registers; the second is that not all of those who are signed up donate regularly. The Swedish innovation goes some way to addressing the second problem. In Sweden there are around 410,000 registered donors; although some 250,000 of donate blood annually, the health authorities are keen to raise this number.
The approach taps into the heart of social media. If something on an Internet or smartphone platform captures the imagination of enough people, they share it, discuss it, and interact with it.
Sweden has also harnessed other forms of technology to help manage blood stocks. The country utilizes the “Samverkande Blodsystem”, which is an Internet based system for the safe exchange of blood donor information between IT systems across different blood collection systems..
More about blood donors, Blood donation, Social media, Text message, Texting
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