With demand up and supply down, it’s more important than ever to optimize the use of blood and blood products with data analytics.

Discover how data analytics can help curb blood waste, especially important during supply shortages.

According to the American Red Cross, blood donations are the lowest in more than a decade. Routine blood drives at schools, universities, and community centers have been postponed due to pandemic conditions, and demand is up around the country.

Blood utilization programs, which make sure blood components are used judiciously, have been around in hospitals for longer than the pandemic, and as the health care system continues to struggle, rigorous programs are more important than ever.

Blood Transfusion Safety

Although the transfusion of blood products is generally safe, the overall risk of patient side effects and mortality are somewhat increased after blood transfusions.

The Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies and The Joint Commission both offer standards to support transfusion safety and patient blood management (BPM). They establish guidelines for the appropriate use of blood products, using consistent criteria for decision-making.

The criteria for implementing blood product transfusions should ensure that blood is provided to patients who need it and is not given to patients for whom another therapy would be as effective. In order to accomplish this, providers who order blood products must be very familiar with the criteria and how to apply them. Outcomes are peer-reviewed, and criteria may be further defined.

Some of the blood product usage metrics that organizations gather include:

  • Number of transfused products used
  • Number of products used adjusted by patient days or discharges
  • Blood product case mix index (CMI) weighted by patient days or discharges
  • Transfusion rate
  • Single-unit RBC orders
  • Average RBC dose
  • Average nadir hemoglobin or platelet count
  • Average highest INR
  • Final INR

Notably, all of these measures are gathered after the fact. A recent study by the Mayo Clinic on the use of data analytics on blood utilization-related outcomes discovered several key improvements.

Strengthening Blood Utilization Programs With Data Analytics

The use of data analytics in a hospital blood utilization program provides not only historical data and trends, but also can provide feedback during the clinical decision-making process, influencing outcomes. With analytics, it is now possible to not only record data, but to compare it against peer benchmarks, and spot areas for improvement.

According to the Mayo Clinic researchers, the annual rate of transfusions per 1,000 cases studied decreased from 762 to 480 as a result of education efforts, improved decision-making practices, and analytics that provided direct feedback.

Other outcomes of the study were just as important. By correctly managing blood utilization, hospital length of stay was reduced by up to 15%, and readmissions decreased. The study also found a noticeable reduction in the number of in-hospital events like strokes, pulmonary embolism, myocardial infarctions, and respiratory distress.

The two Mayo institutions involved in the study estimated around a $7 million savings annually with the use of blood utilization data analytics. With health care margins becoming narrower each year, managing costs through appropriate utilization is an important initiative.

Take a Look at Our Health Care Analytics Applications

d2i works with hospitals every day to make the most of their resources through smart analysis of data. A blood utilization data analysis program can pinpoint trouble areas and help you implement action plans. These tailored, data-driven plans can yield measurable improvements, both in patient outcomes and the bottom line. Contact our domain experts or request a demo to see how we can help your organization optimize its blood utilization program.