Asian Journal of Transfusion Science
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REVIEW ARTICLE  
Ahead of print publication
Smart approaches for encouraging the blood donation


1 Department of Pharmacy, Government Polytechnic, Hisar, Haryana, India
2 Department of Pharmaceutics, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technology, Sardar Bhagwan Singh University, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India
3 Department of Pharmacognosy, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technology, Sardar Bhagwan Singh University, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India

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Date of Submission06-Mar-2022
Date of Decision28-Mar-2022
Date of Acceptance10-Apr-2022
Date of Web Publication26-Sep-2022
 

   Abstract 

Blood is a life saver in many emergencies like accidents or for the patients suffering from deadly diseases such as cancer and thalassemia. Conventionally, blood collection is done in five steps, i.e., recruitment, screening, physical examination, collection, and postdonation care. The huge demand of blood requires the implementation of smart approaches in the field of blood donation, which allows specific, measurable, achievable, and timely outcomes. This paper throws light on various smart approaches to motivate and attract people for blood donation. Gamification, social media, short message service, mobile applications, and other web-based applications are some of these approaches reviewed in this article. A number of platforms are also highlighted where one can seek potential donors or blood banks easily during urgency, avoiding the complex steps followed in traditional blood donation systems.

Keywords: Gamification, Internet·RIFD, mobile applications, short messaging service, social media


How to cite this URL:
Sharma R, Banerjee D, Singh A, Saharan VA. Smart approaches for encouraging the blood donation. Asian J Transfus Sci [Epub ahead of print] [cited 2022 Dec 4]. Available from: https://www.ajts.org/preprintarticle.asp?id=356881



   Introduction Top


Blood is a connective tissue which transports nutrients, carbon dioxide, oxygen, hormones and waste products, protects the body from inflammation and regulates pH, temperature and water balance in the human body. There is a great need for blood and organs as there is no alternative of blood or most of the blood components. The demand of blood is growing day by day, but the national blood supplies are not sufficient to meet the amount of blood required. A huge amount of blood in hospitals is required daily for the treatment of people suffering from diseases such as thalassemia, cancer and for saving the life of accident or trauma victims. It is necessary to have a system at the national level to meet the community need of blood and to provide adequate, available cellular blood components or blood products.[1] The World Health Organization (WHO) hopes for 100% of nonremunerated volunteer blood donors ensuring the quality and safety of blood which can save millions of lives.[2] Evidence-based strategies have been implemented in developed countries for safe transfusion and availability of blood, but many developing countries do not have proper implementation of these strategies. The WHO reported that around 9.2 million blood donations are collected annually from all types of donors. Among them, in 62 countries, almost 100% voluntary blood donation is achieved, whereas 40 countries collect <25% voluntary donation.

Moreover, a number of challenges block the path of the blood supply chain like supply availability, health-related risk, short blood lifetime, and demand fluctuation.[3] Maintaining a motivated group of people willing to donate blood without a personal claim is an important aspect for blood donation service. As blood donation is largely dependent on voluntary donation, the question arises how to motivate and enhance their motivation.[4] This review article summed up all the smart approaches and strategies which are already in use or can be implemented for a better blood supply, increasing effectiveness in fulfilling the blood shortage. These smart approaches also play an important role in motivating the common mass to reach the scale of 100% voluntary blood donation.

At present, a number of smart approaches are used for motivating and attracting blood donors. Smart approaches are specific and relevant ways of blood collection which are measurable and attainable in a specific course of time. These smart approaches include mobile applications, gamified applications, social media interactions, short messaging services (SMS), and web-based applications. For the application of these smart approaches in the field of blood donation, donor classification by data mining technique is required for easy and timely blood collection through various smart platforms.


   Donor Classification by Data Mining Top


Data mining is a technique of gaining knowledge from large databases or data warehouses which are potentially useful and are unknown previously. This technique incorporates many areas such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, database, and statistics. Data mining helps to extract knowledge from existing databases which is further used for prediction. In the case of blood donation, the volume of data is very large and one cannot apply raw datasets for mining; therefore, data mining techniques and tools are used to derive useful information. Data mining techniques have more advantages than that of conventional statistical methods.[5] It uses various techniques such as association, classification, clustering, and prediction.

Some of these predictive models used in data mining are as follows:

CART algorithm

It stands for Classification and Regression Tree Algorithm.[6] When the predicted outcome belongs to the class to which the data belong, classification tree analysis is used, and when the predicted outcome can be a real number, regression tree analysis is used. An easy-to-understand classification rule is provided by classification tree analysis.

Artificial neural network

This algorithm is inspired by the human brain. It consists of input layer, hidden layer, and output layer. The learning takes place in two forms that is feed forward and back propagation. Weights are assigned in feed forward, and actual learning takes place in back propagation.

Support vector machine

The support vector machine (SVM) is a regression technique used for nonlinear datasets. The kernel trick allows handling the nonlinear dataset without taking into account the linear separability.

Logistic regression

Odd ratios are estimated by the public health researchers using this model, which gives meaningful statistics for interpretation.

Delen et al. (2011) studied about the use of data mining techniques and Global Information System (GIS)-based analytics in blood supply chain management.[7] These data mining techniques sometimes become academic exercises only as complex algorithms are performed by researchers. Real-world applicability is not considered by the researchers. This data mining technique was used for the management of blood supply chains in association with GIS-based analytics.[7] In another study, Salami et al. employed a data grid technique for the motivation of potential blood donors in Malaysia.[8] This technique pulls out information about donors or blood information from the data warehouse and displays it virtually through SMS where required. Hospitals across Malaysia developed this technique to meet the shortage of blood across the country. Sundaram and Santhanam (2010) classified regular voluntary donors by using data mining techniques based on geo location.[9] In this study, the geo location regular voluntary donor scoring algorithm can be modified to handle the geographic division strategy. Gire et al. (2018) proposed a study on donor's eligibility criteria by the machine learning algorithm.[10] Not only donor and blood bank time was significantly reduced but also the sorting of donors according to the eligibility criteria helped in efficient blood donation.

Data mining helps in providing information which can estimate donor arrival resulting in better planning of blood donation sessions. It also helps health professionals to maintain blood storage and overcome the side effects due to blood shortage in an emergency. It also predicts the future behavior of blood donors, thus predicting in coming blood storage.[11] Moreover, machine learning algorithms predict return donors with an imbalanced donor distribution.[12] A study was carried out by Bosnes et al. where logistic regression was fitted for the prediction of blood donor arrival, resulting in the reduction of the predicted return rate by 43%.[13]


   Smart Approaches Top



   Blood donation by gamification Top


Gamification is the use of the concept of a game in something which is not associated with the game. It is the use of game mechanics and game thinking for engaging individuals and solving problems. Fun is one of the essential parts of a game and it drives people into doing something and engaging users. The gamification technique was first introduced in the year 2003–2004 and was widely implemented in the year 2010.[14] Initially, this technique had a passive role in advertising blood donation. With further advancements, active engagement through gamification has gained a strong hold for social purposes like motivating blood donation and thereby recovering shortage of blood. The gamification technique fulfilled its major objectives such as encouragement of future donors and providing features to help blood donors to schedule their donations. This technique is successfully satisfying the scopes and requirements till date. Games can be divided into four areas. These four areas are divided by a vertical line which divides games from playing and a horizontal line dividing into whole and partial, as given in [Figure 1].[15] Gamification conceptualize three main parts to motivate donors, and they are the implementation of motivational affordance, psychological outcomes, and behavioral outcomes. These helps is not only recruit new donors but also retention of potential donors.[15]
Figure 1: An illustration of gamification[15]

Click here to view


Typically a gamified app requires four main requirements. App's accessibility is the primary requirement for a gamified blood donation app which deals with the availability of the app to the user after and before installing the app.[16] Accessibility of the app requires the type of operating system, cost of the app or in app purchases, preferred language, geographical location as many apps are restricted in several countries and Internet connection. The second requirement of a gamified blood donation app is the user's information which generally includes the name, address, gender, E-mail, and blood group type of the user. The third is user interaction which deals with the authentication and modification of information. The last requirement is the component of the app which overviews the feature of the app and gamified element of the app. To motivate users for donating blood, these gamified apps come with various interesting components like points, special incentives when there is the shortage of blood, status of the user and milestones after every donation, rankings, tracking of donation progress and a visual display of achievements with badges, points and number of life saved. Gamification moreover enforces the desire of users for competition, community collaboration, and achievement, which motivates a potential candidate to donate blood. There are a number of gamified applications which are used for increasing the psychology for blood donation. There are more than 2,000,000 applications in Google Play/Apple iOS app store, but only few of them are related to blood donation. American Red Cross developed a gaming component, “Are You My Blood Type?” which teaches lessons on blood compatibility by incorporating the idea of gamification. Learning through games is simple and exciting, resulting in more recruitment of potential blood donors.[17]

There should be three mechanisms which are implemented for a gamification, and they are narrative, mechanic, and reward. The narrative part deals with the storyline of the game. In the context of blood donation, the narrative part deals with blood donation.[14] The mechanic part of the game deals with badges, points, medals, leaderboards, etc. The last section is the reward which could be a physical or a virtual reward. According to Sabani et al., (2016), the blood donation gamified app Game4 Life the reward is obtained by exchanging user points by blood donation.[14] The physical rewards could be food vouchers or other coupons and virtual rewards could be Wi-Fipasswords. Such gaming applications play dual roles by spreading awareness among the public and by encouraging people to donate blood.

According to Setiawan and Putra a gamification technique was employed in the application to improve the experience of the users.[18] This application motivated blood donors and gave incentives to the broadcaster. To motivate users, leveling technique was employed in the application. Four levels were set in the application – Newbie, Lover, Maniac, and Donor Master. For each level, there are certain points which should be achieved by the user to get promotion to the next level. Each user gets points on each blood donation and a message broadcast. A controlled experiment evaluation was done with 12 participants by a one-on-one interview with the help of questionnaires. This was done to examine how the gamification technique has helped in motivating blood donors and improving the retention rate. Finally, the prototype was developed, which provided with these functionalities:

  • Broadcasting of messages to inform others for donation
  • Inform relevant users for blood donation
  • Gamification approach which rewards users who are actively involved with blood donation.[18]


For attracting user gamification technique and social networking was merged and an application was developed “Blood Hero.”[19] In this application, donors and people demanding donations can interact and motivate friends through social media. Several rewards are compensated to the users too. Through this application, the story behind the requirement of blood is also shared to people. It is found that there is more disposition of blood donation when people get sensitized by a needy story. Awards and points are distributed to the user on performing tasks such as donation, participating in blood donation campaigns, history sharing, answering questions on blood donation, indicating other users with the same blood group as the requester and inviting friend.


   Use of social networks as medium of blood donation Top


Sufficient supply of blood in an emergency situation can save several lives, but the main problem of suffering is due to challenges such as shortfall of blood and timely availability in an emergency. In lower blood donation rate countries, donation is massively dependent on the family and friends of the patient through word of mouth or networking from peer to peer. As the access of social networking websites increased, several instances also emerged where friends and families of the patient carried the message of the urgent need of blood through the social media channels. Through Facebook posts, status updates, and Tweets, people nowadays can reach to the online community and ask for help in an emergency.

To acquire blood from potential donors, different strategies of communication are followed. One of these communication strategies is through social media requests for a voluntary donation. A growing number of donors are being obtained through social networks. Social networking sites seem very promising for communication among communities or like-minded groups. Hence, this approach has emerged as a promising approach in finding first-time donors as well. Social media platforms motivate the masses due to its specificity and speed of spreading information as well as the response is much larger in social networking websites. These social networks have an advantage of 24/7 readiness which allows the user to interact anytime. The features of using social media as a platform are:

  1. Common goals and views
  2. An unlimited access to resources.


It should also be considered that a node of the social network may belong to the structures of other networks too. Thus, the transfer of any information may lead to its repetition within a number of networks which helps in the great expansion of the information. Social networks provide the following significant roles:

  1. Enabling a free access to people with the same challenges and issues
  2. Presenting the minority people and their views to a wider society
  3. Linking third sector services with the people and involving citizens with the process
  4. Supporting groups with special interests.[20]


In Russia, blood donors can be found from different websites, which are further coordinated with one of the popular social networks of Russia “vk.com.” Within a year of its implementation near about 5000 users showed interest in donating blood appeared in various websites' databases.[20] Another such example is I-Blood.com of Bangladesh has somewhat similar activities. I-Blood is a social blood networking platform whose main motto is to save human lives. This social networking website links user who needs blood with a vast source of blood donors not only in Bangladesh but also abroad. This allows users to connect with friends of the same blood group. Furthermore, this network is well connected to Facebook and Twitter. In another instance, a nonprofit organization Takes All Type, recruit donors and motivates them for donation via social media platform like Facebook at “http://apps.facebook.com/takesalltypes” and “http://www.takesalltypes.org.”


   Blood donation using Twitter as a platform Top


In a study by Abbasi et al. (2018) the analytical process starts with identifying the blood donation disseminator on tweeter and the tweets are gathered by tweeter API.[21] After collecting the tweets, the dependent and independent variables were studied. Dependent variables were studied using two metrics, namely volume of tweets and average delay of tweets in minutes. Volume of tweets is an important variable to get access to other independent variables like which blood group is needed or which disease requires more blood. An average delay of tweets was studied as time is one of the crucial factors for blood donation. To analyze the blood donation disseminator effectiveness, independent variables such as requested blood group, number of donations successfully completed, apps used, and time were measured. Some twitter profile/screen names along with their date of account created, number of tweets and number of followers are presented in [Table 1].
Table 1: Twitter account that facilitates in forwarding blood donation requests (as per May 15th, 2020)

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In another study by Mathur et al., tweets were collected from May 10, 2018 to July 10, 2018, by using Twitter Streaming API.[22] Three separate datasets were built, namely:

  1. Personal donation request dataset: From the online blood donation portal, 53 medical phrases were extracted
  2. Blood donation community dataset: A list of users was obtained from which specific Twitter handle of specific blood donation groups was collected
  3. Dataset HO: This states hold out dataset, and the tweets are collected using both the above-mentioned dataset.


The Emergency Blood Donation Request (EDBR) tweets and non-EDBR tweets were sorted using the datasets; thus, blood donors and blood requesters were tracked using Twitter as a platform.

Since the developing countries do not have a properly structured blood donation process, they are mainly dependent on family and friends. In this case, social media may play an important role not only in spreading awareness and motivation about blood donation but also in timely blood donation request propagation. Twitter, Facebook, and other social media websites are widely used for this purpose.


   Blood donation through short message service Top


In recent days a number of sectors in developing countries have increased the Short Message Service feature of a GSM mobile phone. Initially, SMS was started as a supplement to voice communication by the transmission of short messages with a limitation of 160 characters by mobile application part protocol in GSM.[23] However, in recent days, this service is used for handling and communicating with a vast number of issues. In the health sector, short messaging service is used for improving monitoring, diagnosis, communication, managing patient's appointments, and treatment. Many studies have reported short message service as more effective over voice calls for the reminder to encourage and motivate potential donors.

In a study by Rahman et al. a phone-based blood donor motivation and recruitment for the developing countries was reported as Smart Blood Query (SBQ).[24] This system was developed using the RapidSMS platform, which is an open-source SMS-based tool. The network part of this system consists of two parts, a mobile with messaging facility and a server. The blood donors register themselves with their blood group and other required details in a special format through SMS which are stored in a database. Donors who have already registered can edit their profile if there is any change regarding the location and availability. When the request for blood comes to the SBQ server, it sends bulk SMS to the top 5 potential donors. The donors have to confirm to initiate the donation process by replying “YES.” The donor can also reject the donation by replying “NO.” After donor confirmation, a questionnaire is sent to confirm that the donor fulfills all the blood donation criteria. If everything matches, the donor donates blood to the recipient. After donation, the donor becomes unavailable for 89 days.[24] One of the major concerns about blood donation is the lack of donor motivation. In most cases, donors are not self-motivated as they are unaware of the urgency of the requirement of blood. With this approach, donors come to know the urgency and the critical scenario of the requester, which may significantly motivate blood donors.

In another study by Krishna et al. a SMS-based blood bank was designed and implemented.[25] This proposed system helps in fulfilling the need of blood by providing communication among blood banks. The individuals can register their names for donating blood simply by sending SMS. In this study, Raspberry pi 2, a credit card-sized CPU, was used. The core was designed with ARM CORTEX-A7 with a RAM memory of 1 GB. The user requests blood and it is verified whether the blood is available at the blood bank or not. If the blood is available at the blood bank, the contact details are forwarded to the user via SMS else, the donor list is checked in the database. Finally, the contact number of the blood donor is sent to the user from the donor list if all the criteria are fulfilled.

Rodrigues Lucena et al. (2020) suggested sending text messages through Whatsapp as one of the ways to motivate blood donors.[26] Whatsapp with its simple and user-friendly interface, can reach to the maximum number of individuals. This app is widely used as information technology in the field of mobile health. A study was carried out by Krishna et al. also found Whatsapp very effective in motivating potential blood donors by sending text messages. The message content sent to the blood donor to motivate them and to repeat donation is summarized in [Table 2].[25]
Table 2: Text messages sent through Whatsapp for motivating blood donation

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According to the survey of the FDA, only 5% of people of the United States donate blood yearly. More than 50% of the donor does not return for a second donation.[27] If this scenario continues globally, many individuals can loss their lives because of blood shortage. The motivation of new donors and potential donors is necessary. This can be easily achieved by SMS. This approach for motivating donors can reach a wide number of individuals, and moreover, no software installation is required for SMS messaging. Hence using SMS for motivating donors and to meet, the shortage of blood can be an easy and cheapest approach.

Ramya et al. implemented an SMS-based automated blood bank for rural areas. Donors register with the details stored in Tiva C Series TM4C123G system database.[28] User or the requester of blood requests with required blood group and a current address. Blood donor lists are fetched on the screen and a requester can request for blood by sending direct SMS to the donor. Automated blood bank brings donors and individuals in need of blood on a common platform. This application helps people to come in contact with donors who are willing to donate blood. Furthermore, this application has a great role in motivating new donors.[28]

Blood donation using web-based applications and cloud computing

Cloud computing is one of the emerging topic in the world now a days through which users can access to various information. It also eliminates the need of expensive computing facilities. Some of the characteristics of cloud computing are stability, cost reduction, elasticity, on demand access and location independence.[29] Cloud computing is a combination of hardware, application software and system software. The main idea behind cloud computing is to offload data to a remote resource provider which is cloud or internet and it provides interesting characteristics.[30] In the field of blood donation, management of blood banks and motivation of donors through various web applications and cloud computing have a stronghold. A typical web-based blood donation applications are comprised of two components, a cloud computing component and a mobile computing component.[31] This smart approach plays a great role in recruitment and retention of potential donors. Through cloud computing component each and every information provided by the user is uploaded in the cloud which further hastens the procedure of finding donors than conventional donation practices. Based on the data uploaded by the user, web based applications match the requirement of the blood group and potential donors followed by generating push notifications to all potential donors in almost real time to alert them for immediate requirement of blood. Blood banks and other organizations solely depend on voluntary donation and this conventional process face challenges like finding voluntary donors. Web applications and cloud computing can be a remedy for this problem as a huge mass of potential donors can be notified through these communication tools during emergencies of blood shortage.

Web applications and cloud computing have been widely studied by scholars to overcome the blood shortage either by motivating blood donors or by managing of blood donation system. Some of the proposed web applications are as follows:

Smart blood bank

Here, all the necessary details are uploaded to the cloud storage.[32] The cloud storage provides real-time information of the available blood. If the required blood is out of stock, then it shows the contact details of the donors with the required type of blood group.

Lifeshare blood service

Users register to this system and get the list of hospitals, blood banks, and blood donors, which is already uploaded on the database.[33]

E-blood bank

Seeker or the user registers in an E-blood bank application.[34] When the user requests blood, the location is tracked through GPS. If there is any nearby donor, the contact details of the donor are given to the user. Criteria such as weight and previous blood donation date of the user are checked. If all the conditions are satisfied, then notifications are sent to the donor who are eligible for the donation.

Smart blood query

After registration, the location of the user is detected by GPS.[35] When there is a need of blood, the eligible donor is identified and notified. If the identified donor is not willing to donate or is not available, then the scope of detection is increased and the new donor is searched who is eligible for donation.

PACS flow

It is a standard web application which creates a user-friendly platform for transferring medical images, texts, and messages.[36] Studies showed that this web application decreased the time required to prepare and transfer the data by a factor of 3. All the diagnostic images are exported to the PACS. When a doctor uses PACSflow, an e-form is filled, and the hospital is notified. Now, the doctor can have access to the images.

Sistema Integrado de Bancos de Sangue

Sistema Integrado de Bancos de Sangue is an automated system developed by the Institute of Systems and Computer Engineering of Macau.[37] It is a blood bank information system and helps the workers to increase the efficiency of workflow and optimization by using various systems and apparatus such as personal computers, automated blood testing apparatus, and peripheral apparatus and instruments. The peripheral apparatus includes a barcode reader and printer, electronic donor card read and write machine, and donation monitoring apparatus. These systems helped in a more effective workflow.

Moreover, many problems arise with the current system of blood donation like manual registration of donors without knowing the history, many donors leave the donation camp without donating due to factors like time and motivation, manual record of donors with rare blood groups, which stands as a barrier for further contact as they often change their address and contact details. To overcome these problems, web application plays a vital role.[38] Vasaikar proposed online blood donation using cloud computing which comes with a variety of applications like online registration at home; donors can track blood donation camps near him, donors can check their blood medical history, whether healthy or unhealthy and effective blood storage.[39] This application helps to omit the fear of blood donation and helps in the effective donation. Adsul et al. proposed automated blood bank using an embedded system which solely depends on the concept of cloud computing.[40] Not only whole blood but also blood components are effectively donated through this proposed system. Patil et al. came up with a web-based application where the receiver requests blood and get tracked by the app and gets a notification about the nearby blood banks.[41] If the type of blood requested is in stock or donor is available, blood donation is made.

Web applications with GPS have a great outcome in tracking blood donors, hospitals, and blood banks. Various studies have been carried out and a number of systems are proposed by scholars where the utility of web applications has been increased with the use of GPS. Mandale et al. proposed a system where users or seekers can track blood in nearby hospitals, blood banks or even can track potential blood donors by GPS.[42] Most of the smartphones are equipped with GPS receivers. The GPS satellite containing the location and time details continuously transmits the data. When the mobile device requests for location, the GPS satellite send the data which is received by the GPS receiver and it shows the exact location. Cell towers also help in tracking location. More the number of cell towers more accurate will be the tracking. The system proposed by Lunawat can track the current location of medical stores, hospitals, and blood banks using GPS or mobile networks.[43] While Priya et al. (2014) came up with a system containing six modules that are admin, donor, acceptor, patient, system database, and blood donation app.[44] This system uses GPS for finding the exact location of donors and spatial search for the geographical location of the requester.

Although blood donation and marrow transplantation in many developing countries face various challenges such as funding, donor issues, and less alternatives, which stands as a barrier in the present blood donation scenario.[45] In many cases, blood donation lacks the confidence of confidentiality of private information, web applications create a confidential atmosphere which motivates donors for donation. In cases of emergency, these applications help in gathering information. Moreover, these smart applications act as a bridge between blood banks, hospitals, blood donors, and users. A number of advantages like reducing human error, improving the monitoring process, and reducing operational cost make web applications as one of the superior smart approaches for motivating blood donors.[46]

Blood donation using mobile application

Providing health care by electronic means is referred to as e-health. One of the components of e-health is m-health which means providing health care through mobile devices. M-health technology made a transition of care from hospitals to the home of patients. Increase in the number of mobiles and tablets and rapid growth of mobile applications has strengthened the idea of m-health.[47] A survey of 2015 showed that there were almost 1.91 billion smartphone users globally and the number rise to 2.16 billion in 2016. With the increase of smartphone users, m-health apps are vastly explored.[48] Blood donation in association with mobile applications made donation easier and user-friendly. A number of applications in Android and iOS platforms are already available at fingertips which not only hastens donation to a certain extent but also helps in the recruitment and retention of donors. Blood Donor app collaborating with American Red Cross reached the milestone of 1 million downloads.[49] One of the biggest problems related to donation is that young potential donors do not pay much attention on this issue, thereby ignoring or forgetting the donation appointment or do not return for a second appointment. Mobile applications, in this case, can overcome the barrier and have the potential to engage donors for further donation; thus, retention of donors is achieved by this smart approach. A few leading applications for blood donation of the Android platform are listed in [Table 3]:
Table 3: Leading blood donation application available at free of cost in google play

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Many scholars have proposed mobile apps for active and passive control on promoting blood donation by motivating people. Moreover, these applications play an important role to meet the shortage of blood in cases of emergency and urgency. In a survey done by Yuan et al. among 982 ethnically diverse population, 67.7% population is likely to use the blood donation mobile app.[57] The current scenario of mobile applications is not available according to the user's need. Most of them are only helpful in cases of emergency or trauma. To overcome this problem Fathima and Valarmathi designed a user-friendly app with zero cost.[58] This guides the blood banks with a list of donors and the approximate time to reach the blood donation camps. This app resulted in more efficient blood donation by tracking the location of potential blood donors. Hamlin and Mayan came up with their proposed system where a donor registers himself and gets a one-time password if the donor accepts the donation request.[59] This app comes with a timely reminder system to the donors, which not only motivates but also gives an urge for blood donation. Mahesh and Rajagopal used the MY SQL database, where the information about nearby blood banks and hospitals are stored and can be easily accessed when needed.[60]

Some proposed applications by scholars which have the potential to bring noticeable changes in the behavior of donors are listed below:

Rh++

The prime duty of this app is to update and notify the location of the donor regularly.[61] The volunteers registers themselves at the Rh++ web portal, and they are called up by the staff to the blood recruitment center for health check-ups and finally, if the check-up passes successfully the blood center gives the username and password to the volunteer. The volunteers then download the app and become an effective donors.

D'WORLD

The donor login and registers for donation in the app.[62] The result screen of the app gives the list of nearby potential donors and the blood is donated by the nearest donor. For the searching donor, the recipients have to enter specific fields such as blood group, country, state, and city. The Department of Health and Welfare approves the registration and the donor name appears while searching.

Life-care

This app is a part of online blood donation management system.[63] It effectively manages the blood banks, donors, and requesters. This app helps in finding blood donors from a specific area and provides blood to the needful patient. Graphical user interface is provided to both the donor and recipient. Both the patient and the donor are required to login with a username and password. Blood group and age are the fields which are required to be filled by both the patient and the donor.

Helping hands

This app is a one of the best platform where a donor can easily donate not only blood but also clothes and money to orphanages.[64] People who are eager to donate blood and money to orphanages register in this app. The nearby orphanages are tracked by the tracking system and donation is done during any emergency. It also provides information about programs conducted by the orphanages.

Red cross blood app

This app has an upper hand in motivating donors.[65] It is mainly designed for voluntary blood donation. The donor can easily book an appointment by just tapping on “Book Appointment” section. Once the appointment is booked donor can share it with the social circle on Facebook. The iOS notification service reminds the user about nutrition and hydration before donation. When the donor arrives at the blood donation camp, the iOS Passbook application displays the digital membership card with a barcode on the lock screen. The nurse scans the barcode for check in and donation.

Android blood bank

Android Blood Bank comes with a proposal to meet the shortage of blood.[66] The users have to register the app with personal details such as name, age, and blood group. If already registered users can directly sign in and get access to the information like nearby hospitals, blood banks, and donors. Users can easily contact the hospitals or blood banks when there is the urgent need of blood.

Virtual blood bank project

Donors registers this app through their mobile devices specifying their contact information and blood group.[67] The general packet radio service connects the device with the server. Server stores all the basic information and when a person seeks blood donor, the application communicates with the server specifying the required blood group. The server matches the group with a registered donor and sends the location of the donor to the seeker through GPRS.

In case of urgency, proper medium of searching blood and blood donors is an essential step which results in greater efficiency and time saving in the process of blood donation. With the help of questionnaires and surveys, it can be concluded that mobile applications serve a better medium for finding blood without wastage of time.[68] Due to the advancement of m-health, users can now search for blood banks just by using the pin code or by searching the name of city and state, thus making mobile applications a superior platform for blood donation.[69] M-health along with the use of mobile applications, forms a reliable platform which connects authenticated clinics for donating and receiving of blood. Data such as the number of blood donors and number of blood requests can be collected from these applications, which keep a track of recruitment, retention of donors and further tracks the sale of blood. These apps transformed long, repetitive blood donation process to an easy and user-friendly activity resulting in more positive results and retention of potential donors.


   Other Smart Approaches Top


Electronic donor card

The donor card has automated the flow of information in donor screening.[70] The donor card is fully integrated with the blood bank information system. Primarily donors are classified and suitable donors are compiled by the blood center administrators. The sorted blood donors are provided with an electronic donor card and all the personal details of the donor are synchronized in the card. The nurses have the authority to update the card. After blood donation, the donor gets back the newly updated donor card. This reduces the long-term procedures of blood donation and motivates new donors. e-RaktKosh is a centralized blood bank management system which enforces Drug and Cosmetic Act and national blood donation policy and standards for ensuring proper donation, collection, and management. Electronic donor card or e-pass is now being introduced to e-RaktKoshfor easy blood donation during the nationwide pandemic scenario. American Red Cross started an initiative of sending e-cards to the donor, which could be further shared to social media to show support and encourage others for blood donation.[71]

Donor education materials

This is a type of brochure which contains information on blood donation like the ongoing need during blood donations and response to donor's concerns such as fear and pain. The brochures mainly consisted of a new brochure which educate the donor regarding ongoing need of blood, how one can help others by donating blood, coping strategies after blood donation.[72] Other types of brochures are standard blood center brochures which are developed by American Red Cross, and a control brochure which contains healthy eating practices and exercises. Educating donors by the help of these brochures have a significant effect on their mentality and will to donate blood. In a study by France et al., participants are provided with donor brochure along with multimedia files demonstrating about the strategies involved like muscle tensing, fluid loading and distractions like music and.[73] This study was carried out to find how educating donors impact donation. The participants were asked to read a brochure for knowledge on blood donor concerns, viewing videos on blood donor concerns and coping techniques, both read the brochure and watch the video, and finally reading of a control brochure on healthy eating and exercises. It was found that groups which both read brochure and viewed the video had a large reduction of anxiety during donation and changed their attitude toward blood donation to a greater extent. Moreover, in another study, it was found participants reading the study brochure, improved confidence, attitude, anxiety, and intention toward blood donation.[74] This approach through educating donors has not only reduced the fear but also motivated them for further donations thus playing a huge role in new recruitment and retention of donors.

Radio frequency identification

The RFID tags use radio waves to identify objects automatically. Nowadays, these RFID tags are used for tagging blood bags for enhancing the safety of blood transfusion. This system has a virtue of providing real-time status of the inventory and blood banks; thus, more efficient blood transfusion is done.[75] This system, on the other hand, can also help to generate useful reports which can be further used by the health personnel. During blood donation, the RFID tags should be present at the wrist of the donor after complete registration at blood bank management software. During the eligibility check of the donor, the physician can easily track the tag and get information about the medical history and eligibility of the donor. Each bags containing the blood should be labeled with an RFID tag for further easy tracking and dispensing. When there is a need of blood physician can easily cross-check the bag based on the prior information uploaded by the donor at management software and can dispense blood after crosschecking the required blood group. RFID tags increase the accuracy of blood transfusion, and wastage of blood is reduced to a greater level. This smart approach makes potential donors motivated and boosts up the wish to donate blood as the blood bags with RIFD tags are properly utilized and can be directly connected to patient's life. Not only this, this novel approach plays an important role in the retention of a large number of donors, thus saving more life.

Questionnaires

Distributing questionnaires to the donors after blood donation at a certain interval of time regarding the experience of donation, attitude and belief about blood transfusion, etc., not only gives an idea about the return rate of donors but also motivates donors for future blood donation. Intention for blood donation is generally determined by the perceived barriers during blood donation. A survey in Canada was done regarding how questionnaires increase the return rate. A control population was set to whom no questionnaires were provided. It was found that blood donation was 6.8% more than the control in 6 months.[76] In another study, 15 African–American churches were supplied with questionnaires which assessed the barriers, motivation, beliefs, and knowledge about blood donation.[77] In Greece questionnaire was distributed among 1600 individuals to study about the factors that motivate and hinder blood donation.[78] In another survey at Nigeria which was done by questionnaires, it was found that 41% want certificates as an incentive for donation, 13.6% want money and only 2.58% donate for nothing.[79] Questionnaires also helped Goncalez et al. (2008) in finding the knowledge, attitude, and motivation about blood donation and donating blood in case of HIV in Brazil.[80]

Models

Models like the Markov model and other theory-based approaches played an important role in predicting future blood supply and blood donors. In New Zealand, about 4% of people donate blood and 20% needs blood and blood products.[81] Holdershaw et al. used Ajen's theory and Labaw's behavioral approach to predict willingness to donate blood.[81] Aldamiz-Echevarria et al. also proposed a theoretical model which helped the blood banks to retain potential donors.[82] Moreover, models like the Markov model helped in predicting future blood donors in Japan[83] and also predicted blood donation mentality and intention among Australians.[84] In present-day theoretical models have a renowned application in blood donation as nowadays blood donation became more theoretical oriented as the theory of planned behavior have a significant role in predicting blood donor arrival with the support of transtheoretical model.[85] Different studies by scholars and implementation of models developed an effective stage-matched intervention which subsequently increased blood donation.[86]


   Conclusion Top


The smart approaches discussed above have a great role in motivating potential donors. Day by day, these smart platforms and techniques are becoming a stronghold in meeting blood shortages not only in developing countries but also all over the world. Moreover, these approaches overcame the communication barrier between seeker and donor, thus forming a bridge between the two and making blood donation an easy, convenient and short process. Although these approaches have their own set of disadvantages like ethical issues or using smart gadgets such as smartphones and computers to access them. However with the advancement of technology and medical science, donors are able to overcome the fear of blood donation and these approaches can be tagged as ubiquitous solution to give timely access to the blood requester and donor to handle emergency situations. Taking these smart approaches in account WHO, along with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, can see a light of hope in implementing the global framework for action to achieve credible increments in voluntary blood donation.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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Correspondence Address:
Vikas Anand Saharan,
School of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technology, Sardar Bhagwan Singh University, Balawala, Dehradun - 248 001, Uttarakhand
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ajts.ajts_30_22



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