Finnish Red Cross Blood Service has a blood service center in the Kivihaka area of Helsinki. All donated blood is sent through this center. Any blood bags filled throughout Finland make it to the Kivihaka blood service center by the next day, at the very latest. There, the production of the various blood products, quality assurance, laboratory research and support services all take place under one roof.

There is a natural need for fast logistics in blood service because blood and blood products have a limited shelf life. The red blood cells that the Blood Service supplies to hospitals for operations can be used for up to one month. On the other hand, the platelet products needed for cancer treatment, for instance, expire after five days.

The required quantity of blood at any given time varies, from the tablespoon needed for a premature infant, to catastrophic events where even several gallons will not suffice. This creates a massive challenge to the Blood Service which relies on volunteer blood donors. They want to be able to predict their future needs for blood, which in turn requires up-to-date status information from the blood banks of the Blood Service and hospitals. The Blood Service also faces challenges in their operating environment, including an aging population and the development of the technologies used in healthcare.

Martti Syrjälä, Chief Executive, Blood Service
Martti Syrjälä, Chief Executive, Blood Service
Martti Syrjälä, Chief Executive, Blood Service

“We have decided to develop Business Intelligence and new digital services. The objective is to get the activity of donors to meet the demand for blood in the best possible way,” says Martti Syrjälä, Chief Executive, Blood Service.

Blood service must be real-time

Blood Service’s "vein-to-vein" project uses new ERP and CRM systems to implement digitalization in cooperation with CGI. Best practices for the fresh approach were sought from the wood processing industry as its process control standards have fit like a glove to the operations of the Blood Service.

“On a global scale, we are one of the first blood service operators to digitize our operations to this extent. So it is no wonder that our colleagues abroad are keeping a keen eye on our progress,” states Syrjälä.

To be deployed in autumn 2017, the system aims to make the blood delivery chain more efficient by improving the monitoring of blood and blood products, the transparency of operations and the ability to predict the need for blood. The online-based blood donation process provides real-time information from the moment the donor sits down in the chair. The blood, tested during the donation, will continue to be monitored throughout the production and delivery chain.

Digital tools bring new surety to the operations and open the doors to data system integration between the Blood Service and hospitals. This way, the processes related to donating blood and producing and using blood products can be developed and optimized.

A mutual data transfer model

Digitalization of the Blood Service puts the focus on predictive factual communication. This entails, for instance, communicating with donors via social media and SMS (text) messages. In the future, the aim is to add data from hospitals to the delivery chain for creating predictions regarding future blood requirements. The vision is that the Blood Service, in the future, will be a part of a primarily automated, real-time, transparent delivery chain that ensures that donated blood is efficiently and safely delivered from the donor to the recipient.

“In total, hospitals store the same amount of blood as Blood Service. This is why we need their help to develop the management of blood and blood product reserves. It is beneficial to all that all blood service parties have an identical view on the current status of the blood supply,” explains Syrjälä.

In addition to the Blood Service and hospitals, the project will benefit donors and patients through better customer experiences. An increased amount of data provides accurate benchmark data of the use of blood products in different hospitals. The result is cost savings and higher quality care.

“To build the entire system, we need contributions from hospitals as well as IT expertise. That’s why Blood Service chose CGI as its strategic digital transformation partner,” highlights Syrjälä.

The innovation, unique on a global scale, saw its inception at CGI’s Digital Spark workshop* where CGI experts and representatives of the Blood Service started to think about all things that digitalization would enable the Blood Service and its customers to achieve.

  Outsourced security control

The Blood Service’s key data system events are monitored by CGI’s Security Operations Center* (SOC). In addition to monitoring, CGI’s experts will analyze potential data security offsets, report attempted cyber attacks and instruct the Blood Service on how to fix data security problems.

The Blood Service is a service reliability critical operator. In practice, blood products cannot be utilized without reliable, protected information. This is why securing data is not only vital for operations, but is also an international requirement.

CGI’s SOC is a 24/7 technology- and operator-independent service.­


*In Finnish.