With 1.6 million patient visits and 105,600 admissions each year, blood is a lifeline for Stockholm’s Karolinska University Hospital, one of Europe’s premier health facilities.
Because blood has a short shelf life (five weeks for red blood cells and just seven days for platelets), the hospital needs constant donations to support its high volume of surgical procedures. To achieve this, the hospital operates five mobile blood clinics – the blood buses – that make regular rounds of the Stockholm area, visiting workplaces and the local community to help people donate their blood.
“People in Stockholm, just like every large city, are busy and stressed,” says Susanne Seaton, head of the hospital’s blood buses programme. “We have to make it easy for them to give blood, so we go to them.”
Originally, all administration on the buses was manual. At the end of each day, staff had to match the records and donations they had collected with the computerised master records in the hospital. This took valuable time, delaying the time when collected blood was available to use. It also left room for manual errors. To improve efficiency the hospital decided to virtualize its laboratory information systems (LIS) and patient record systems so staff can have access to the information they need wherever they are.
Secure access to apps and info on the road
Karolinska chose Citrix XenApp to give staff access to the same apps and information they used when they were back in their lab. This not only helped staff work more efficiently from the road, but also simplified management for IT.
Johan Forsberg, head of Karolinska’s Citrix environment explains, “Before 4G networks were available everywhere, we had to plan for the buses to use 3G or even very slow GSM connections. We needed the blood buses to have access from any one of their 160 stops, and Citrix was the only solution. It’s secure and fast.”
Today, the blood buses have a 4G connection to Karolinska’s data centre. Each bus is equipped with two or three laptops, barcode printers and readers, and a wireless network. Blood donors sign the required health declaration electronically on Microsoft Surface tablet devices.
The virtualised applications are also available to 70 community clinics, which use thin-client terminals, and six other hospital laboratories in the Stockholm area.
Connected blood buses save more lives
“Now we are online all the time; we can work much more quickly,” says Seaton. “It’s fantastic. The blood buses are very busy, and we process around 80 donors each day.”
Forsberg adds, “Whatever we can do in hospital, we can now do on the blood bus. We can register new blood donors, access existing records, match blood types, and label blood bags with barcode labels for easy and instant traceability.”
The blood is available for use as soon as it arrives back at the laboratory, with no administrative delays.
Having instant access to online records also saves donors’ time, making each visit more convenient and encouraging them to donate again when the bus returns on its three-month round.
“We save more life because we collect more blood,” Seaton explains. “Last year, the blood buses collected 38,000 blood donations and signed up more than 10,000 new donors.”