The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) is collaborating with Datacentrix, a provider of high performing and secure ICT solutions, to implement an enterprise information management (EIM) solution to migrate away from paper-based processes and enhance information management.

SANBS operates across nine South African provinces to collect blood donations from millions of volunteer donors. With over 800,000 blood donations each year, millions of forms and records are generated from the donor all the way to the patient that benefits from a blood donation.

“Up to 30 million 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,” said Senior Manager of Quality Systems at SANBS, Hazel Bell.

SANBS’ paper-based system was prone to an array of issues, ranging from incorrect or incomplete forms hindering SANBS’ ability to collect certain invoices to the complex task of analysing the data on record. The paper records were also susceptible to getting lost or damaged, such as when a fire destroyed records in the SANBS’ Pinetown warehouse.

“Following a thorough assessment, the first phase of the programme kicked off with the digitisation of donor forms, cross-match forms, and various business records currently filed on paper,” said Training Manager for EIM at Datacentrix, Lidia Basson.

The Datacentrix project, which has been named “Project Impilo” – a Zulu term meaning “health,” is now in its second phase to transform millions of other records relating to blood donation, testing and quality control into digital assets.

According to Datacentrix, the new digital solution will enable SANBS to store and retrieve information more efficiently; maintain accurate document audit trails; improve interoperability and efficiencies of systems and processes; enhance collaboration across departments; timeous disposal of records; automatic document version control; and powerful search capabilities to assist in finding documents.

“The solution is capable of managing a wide variety of document formats as they’re transformed from paper to digital. In addition, rich Application Program Interfaces (APIs) allow for integration into other line-of-business systems and existing SAP modules,” said Basson.

Future plans involve extending the initial Project Impilo pilot group of 120 users to all 2,500 SANBS staff nationwide.

“Paper consumption and costs will decrease dramatically, creating not only a positive environmental impact, but also improving the working conditions for SANBS staff,” said Bell.

“In addition, the system will assist SANBS in its strategic focus on compliance to the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act,” continued Bell.

As a result of moving to a digital system, SANBS expects the user experience for donors and beneficiaries to improve, spurring greater levels of donation and greater impact in fulfilling its mandate of saving the lives of South Africans in need of transfusions.

“Ultimately, the cost savings will mean that budgets are funnelled into more valuable areas like research, performing big data analysis on our records, and increasing the size of our donor base,” concluded Bell.

For more information contact, like us on Facebook or tweet us @eHealthNewsZA.