A nonprofit blood bank in Florida is utilizing DocuWare Cloud to store donor records and standard operating procedures manuals. Digital document control speeds up retrieval times, increases staff productivity, and reduces errors. Digital records also facilitate easy compliance with FDA guidelines and reports. The solution is so easy-to-use that the nonprofit can utilize volunteers to digitize records which reduces costs and strengthens community involvement. The system helps SunCoast Blood Bank speed up the intake screening process for donors while keeping the blood supply safe for the community.
SunCoast Blood Bank is a 501 c3 nonprofit community blood center that supplies blood products to 9 different hospitals in a 4-county region. The organization has 5 permanent collection sites, 7 blood mobiles, a warehouse and a transfusion service. The blood bank holds more than 1,000 blood drives a year and collects about 38,000 units (or pints) of blood annually. SunCoast fills a vital role in the community because it is the only blood bank in the region.
SunCoast Blood Bank was utilizing an offsite, secure facility to store its paper records. Turnaround time to pull a record was slow, information was not searchable, and the long-term cost for the storage was unsustainable. The organization simply needed better and faster access to donation records.
Each unit of donated blood is labeled with an ID number. If a donor called back with additional travel information or if the testing brought up a result that made the blood unusable, the blood bank would need to swiftly access and amend the donor record and contact the hospital to find out what happened to that unit of blood. SunCoast is required to store donor records for ten years, however if for any reason a donor cannot donate blood, that record needs to be stored indefinitely. They needed to gain more control over when and how they could access their data and wanted search functionality. SunCoast decided to look for a cloud document management solution because of their small IT staff and budget.
After researching alternatives to paper files, SunCoast decided to work with their Authorized DocuWare Partner, who got them up and running with DocuWare Cloud. The cloud solution freed SunCoast from having to use their own IT staff to implement and maintain a solution. Today, they are automatically indexing their records by donor name, donor ID number and unit ID number.
As a non-profit, SunCoast utilizes volunteers to help digitize their records. Volunteers range in age from 6 to 87 years old, with a strong representation from high school students and seniors. The blood bank encourages volunteers by offering scholarships to high school students willing to write an essay and donate 3 units of blood or volunteer a minimum of 30 hours. The organization uses this scholarship program to cultivate the next generation of blood donors and help make and strengthen connections within the community they serve.
Volunteer Coordinator, Joan Leonard, is a strong supporter of DocuWare because she knew the solution was so easy to use that she could train volunteers and allow them to manage the scanning program. Once a volunteer has been trained, they are able to train others.
“Not only is DocuWare helping us digitize our records, it is helping us connect to our community. I have high school students teaching retirees who have never used a computer, to scan and index documents. This has been a tremendous multi-faceted program that not only helps us better manage our information but is helping our seniors gain new skills that will allow them to get back into the workforce,” stated Leonard.
In the summer, SunCoast volunteers scan 6 days a week, 8 hours a day. Volunteer hours drop once school is back in session, but some scanning work is done every day. In one summer, SunCoast volunteers scanned 60,000 records or about 3 years’ worth of the most recent donor records. Now volunteers will work on scanning the backlog of 1,500 boxes of older records stored off-site. Staff can now move through the office easier and the workplace is calmer since 60 boxes have now been removed from offices and hallways.
With DocuWare it is easier for the blood bank to comply with FDA guidelines. If there was an FDA reportable error regarding a unit of blood, the blood bank has 45 days to submit the report online and provide evidence of corrective action. The penalty for not submitting the report on time is an “observation” on FDA form 483. With repeated observations of the same error type, the FDA can impose fines or even shutdown a facility. Electronic documentation makes meeting regulatory compliance deadlines much simpler.
The biggest benefit SunCoast has seen since implementing the system is lightning quick document retrieval.
“With DocuWare Cloud, our turnaround time to pull up a donor’s record to verify or edit information, or post test results, happens in seconds when before it was a 24 hour wait. The difference in our productivity and response time is quite significant,” said Robert Harper, Director of Quality Assurance for SunCoast Blood Bank.
As a nonprofit utilizing volunteers to scan documents, quality assurance was a key issue for SunCoast. In the beginning they reviewed 1 in 10 records, now they only look at 1 in 25. With a goal of maintaining accurate, high-quality information, the system’s flexibility and ease-of-use, even for a rotating group of volunteers, was just what SunCoast needed and helped them lower their costs.
The system has been so well received that the nonprofit is expanding its use to other documents, including manuals, forms and purchase orders. Today, staff at the donation centers and mobile donation vehicles have digital access to a 15 system manuals of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) that helps the staff know if they can accept blood donations from a donor that has traveled to specific countries or is answering other screening questions in unexpected ways. The FDA believes that closely following procedures in the “up-front” screening questions eliminates 90% of unsuitable donors before any blood is drawn.
“With the SOP manuals in DocuWare, we no longer need to worry about missing pages, or the need to call the main office with questions. Because the staff at each mobile location refer to the manual multiple times a day, having a digital searchable version speeds our intake screening process and aids us with improving accuracy, eliminating errors and calls back to the main office,” said Harper.
Moving forward, the blood bank plans to also put purchase orders, adverse reactions and finance documents into DocuWare. The solution reduced the blood bank’s document management costs by 25% a year and is playing a part in keeping the blood supply safe.
SunCoast’s CEO Scott M. Bush summed it up when he said, “DocuWare Cloud is proving to be a tremendous asset to our organization. Because blood banks are so highly regulated, our blood products, as well as our record keeping must be meticulous. The system not only reduces costs, it improves efficiency for our donors and staff. We look forward to customizing DocuWare to other parts of our operation, further enhancing our ability to serve the community.”