Featured in WIRED digital and print, The Design Issue, October 2016, written by Jodi Helmer
Although we're in the midst of a critical blood shortage, fewer than 10 percent of eligible donors roll up their sleeves to give blood. But it’s a logistics problem as well as a supply problem: There is no central nationwide database to track the availability and cost of blood products, so getting a pint to a patient in need is akin to calling multiple airlines to compare flight schedules and prices.
“It’s a massively fragmented patchwork,” says health care entrepreneur Christopher Godfrey. To address these inefficiencies, Godfrey founded Bloodbuy, a Dallas startup whose cloud-based platform allows hospitals and acute-care facilities to shop for blood at the lowest price and from the best available source. Blood banks enter data about their supplies, including expiration dates and prices, and hospitals log in to place orders. Everything is done via Bloodbuy, digitizing processes previously done by phone or (yes) fax.
After a successful pilot project with Texas Medical Center’s teaching hospitals in 2014, the startup launched nationwide and, to date, has facilitated transactions between 25 hospitals and nine independent blood banks. In one study, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston reported savings in excess of $100,000 during the first 45 days of placing orders on the platform.
The ultimate goal is to create a forecasting model that can predict shortages and prevent states of emergency. As for the sting of donating blood, well, that’s up to another startup.