Blood and heart: How to save 5,000 lives a day

Many organizations save and transform lives, but NHS Blood and Transplant does it for 5,000 patients a day. The public health service collects blood from roughly a million donors a year and provides it to patients needing blood transfusions throughout England. It also facilitates 4,500 organ transplants a year in the United Kingdom.

“Each of those units of blood goes into somebody who is very sick,” says NHS Blood and Transplant CEO Ian Trenholm. “Not a week goes by without hearing a story that brings a tear to your eye because you saved somebody’s life.”

The organization uses Microsoft Azure cloud technologies to streamline the process, which includes 139,000 donor appointments a month at 1,600 venues. It mobilizes donors, manages their experience and tracks donations with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which also helped the agency deploy a cloud-based waiting list of organ recipients. The list has more than 6,000 people.

“The cloud enables clinicians to access the waiting list wherever they are to make complex, life-saving decisions,” says Aaron Powell, chief digital officer at NHS Blood and Transplant. “Previously, they often carried the information on a printout in their back pocket to respond to a call when it came.”

One of the agency’s biggest digital innovations is text messages to donors when a hospital has received their blood. The messages prompt donors to share, “This is where my blood has gone; I’m going to give again,” empowering their sense of purpose and encouraging friends to also donate, Powell says.

“We recognize that nobody actually needs to work with us,” Trenholm says. “You don’t need to be a donor. So we try to balance technology, compassion and competence to make sure we give people the best possible experience when they see us.”