For its best practice of “Introduction of a Mobile Practice – Portable Plasma Collection“, New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) was the proud recipient of the 2nd New Zealand Best Practice Competition Award, held on 10 May 2021 in Wellington at the New Zealand Business Excellence Conference (Fig 1). Established in 1998, NZBS has 673 employees across New Zealand.

Fig 1: The Winning Team – New Zealand Blood Service

To address the issue of geographic restriction of potential plasma donors and quickly respond to changing customer needs, the Portable Plasma Collection Project involved collecting plasma via a mobile operation for the first time in New Zealand. Run by the NZBS Business Improvement Team, the Portable Plasma Collection project was required to be completed in a three-month timeframe as the organisation was facing a forecasted growth in a particular product type (plasma), at a rate of 12% per annum. Plasma is required to manufacture numerous lifesaving components for many New Zealanders. To meet the forecasted product demand, plasma collection rates needed to increase from 77,000 donations per annum (FY19-20) to 90,000 donations per annum (FY20-21), and to 100,000 donations per annum (FY21-22). Portable plasma collection was an opportunity to reach a wider population of donors. The primary purpose of the project was the safe, timely, high-quality, and efficient provision of blood and blood products and services to clinicians for the people of New Zealand (Fig 2).

Fig 2: Scope – Portable Plasma Project

With support from the Steering Group Committee and an objective to assess the feasibility of collecting a new product type via mobile collection, the project was initiated in Oct 2019 using the DMAIIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Innovative, Improvement, Control) methodology. In Nov 2019, the practice was designed during the two project team workshops incorporating Lean and Six Sigma principles. During the first workshop, international benchmarking was a key component of the data collection plan where NZBS aimed for an agile design to rapidly grow their panel of donors. On 7 Dec 2019, a Portable Plasma Collection Pilot was implemented in Rangiora (Fig 3).

Fig 3: Pilot Set-up – Feasibility Project

Following the highly successful feasibility pilot, all the 14 donors indicated that they would return to the mobile facility and they enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and less distance to travel. With a past culture of working in silos, the cross-functional collaborative success led to a sense of pride in the project’s achievements by team members. The process was modified according to staff and donor feedback and rolled out in the Northern Region in Oct 2020 by the Donor Services team. After the implementation, capacity increased by 5,625 donors in the region, representing 43% of the required national growth in plasma collection for the year. The remaining 57% of the required plasma increase for FY20-21 was met through other initiatives. There was cost avoidance of approx. $900,000 (cost of last donor centre fit-out) in capital expenditure. Both the feasibility pilot and Northern Region rollout received the Medsafe regulatory approval. A national rollout of portable plasma is planned for the future.

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Posted by:Ahmed Abbas
Author:Dr. Almas Tazein
Source :
BPIR Category : 1.2.3 Identify new innovations that meet customer needs
14.3.2 Implement an improvement approach/method/technique
14.3.5 Reengineer business processes & systems
15.6.15 Continuous improvement & general measures
3.2.3 Develop&integrate technology/innovation into concept
6.4.1 Improve process/service performance
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