Systems Analysis in Regional Blood Management
One of the main objectives of a Regional Blood Management System (RBMS) is the efficient management of the region’s blood resources. This, however, is a complex task. Blood is a perishable product, for which the standard results of inventory theory do not hold. Its demand and supply are uncertain. It must be distributed and inventoried under special medical considerations at hospitals whose annual transfusion volumes, medical practices, and distances from the supplying regional center vary widely. And, in addition to the above issues of analytical complexity, blood bank managers are faced with issues that are typical of a health care management problem: i) the performance of the system can be measured in terms of multiple criteria, some of which are conflicting, and, ii) quantitative measurement of the system’s performance can be very difficult, since the estimation of many of the costs involved (e.g., unavailability of blood) is very subjective.
Because of the above factors of complexity, the development and implementation of a RBMS calls for a systems approach to be used. According to this approach, the analyst will identify the system and its components, the system-subsystem activities, goals, and hierarchical relations, will analyze the operation of each component, will develop system objectives, design appropriate organizational structures, formulate and solve mathematical (optimization) models, and implement and monitor the new system. In addition, this approach calls for the cooperative use of several scientific fields during the course of the project, the most important of which are Operations Research, Computer Science, Behavioral and Organizational Sciences, and Transfusion Practice.
This paper outlines this approach as used by the staff of the New York Blood Center in the development and implementation of a prototype RBMS. This system was implemented successfully in Long Island, NY, as well as in a number of other regions. It has been considered as one of the most sophisticated blood systems in the U.S.A., and has been awarded the 1979 International Management Science Achievement Award.
KeywordsTransportation Assure Dispatch
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