Friday, August 28, 2009

Blood Donation Delays Trickle Away with Lean Methods at Red Cross

While donating blood yesterday, A Red Cross administrator described a few ways they were implementing Lean methods to improve the donation process - for both the donors and the workers. Some highlights follow:

Big self-qualification poster at the entrance that can save a potential donor time waiting in line to sign-in and read the comprehensive qualification manual just to find out they can’t donate because they are on antibiotics, or travelled to Africa recently. About 12 common disqualifying reasons are listed.

Red Cross Name Tag Red or Green name tags indicated if the donor is a first time or repeat donor. That can sometimes be an indicator if they might have more questions or they may not be familiar with the process.

in-use Ready, In-use, and Open signals to indicate to the workers when the donor is done with the computerized screening questionnaire, or the screening area is occupied or ready for another donor.

Work area re-layout to minimize worker walking distances, but still maintain confidentiality.

The administrator I spoke with was very positive about the improvements which indicates she believed the methods would allow them to better serve the donors while making their jobs easier as well.

“In other areas where they have implemented these changes, they have trimmed 10 to 17 minutes off a
blood donor’s process.”

According to the August 2009 Central North Carolina Red Cross newsletter

I ended up waiting 45 minutes to get my blood drawn even with an appointment, so there is obviously room for improvement, but it was encouraging to see the progress. This was a mobile team so they have several other challenges to overcome that frequently slow or hinder progress:

  • every day they work with a different team of people coming from neighboring counties and states
  • they have to tear down and rebuild their work areas daily, sometimes multiple times per day
  • located in different venues with different floor plans, sizes, and entry/exit paths

Just knowing they are working on saving time for donors shows respect and makes me feel better about the Red Cross.

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