What if a blood bank actually functioned like a bank? What if you had an account, where you made deposits, withdrawals and yes, even transfers to help those in need? Well, now you can!
Senthil Kumar, Chief Creative Officer of J Walter Thompson is the brain behind the Blood Banking app. The free to download app, which was rolled out on April 3, allows users to apply the concepts of banking to blood donation.
“We’ve found that when it comes to blood, if you take the connotation that it is a donation, people are less likely to donate. But if you change this to a savings based conversation, they are more likely to donate. This idea to change the conversation from one of ‘donation’ to one of ‘saving’ manifested itself in the form of an app and a website,” explains Mihir Kakare, Executive Vice President of Mirum.
“Banks are something we are all familiar with – whether it comes to saving, withdrawing or transferring funds. So we used the same paradigms and applied them to blood.”
Studies reveal that as a country we require 5 crore units of blood annually but collect a meagre 80 lakh units. Experts say that even if another 2% of our 1.3 billion population steps up to donate blood, we can solve all our blood shortage problems. Shivshankar, Public Relations Officer at the Indian Red Cross Society, agrees: “Most people only donate when someone asks them to, or for their family and friends only. This replacement donation needs to be reduced, and voluntary donation should be increased to 100%. I believe the Blood Banking app will help motivate youth to come forward and donate. The idea that they should donate for themselves, and not for others, might resonate with them.”
“Just two days before we rolled out the app, a school friend’s father-in-law fell sick and needed blood urgently. My friend started frantically reaching out to everyone on Whatsapp. Now imagine that for some reason, the six people who were needed to donate blood were unable to make it that day. In the presence of the app, all we have to do is pick up the app and transfer the blood – just on the basis of the phone number alone! A person doesn’t even have to hunt,” explains Mihir.
Many great ideas often remain just that – ideas. But the team of 40 who brought this app to life over a three month period have efficiently translated this world-changing idea into an app with well thought of features and practical applicability.
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“A male can donate blood once in 3 months, while a female can donate blood once in 4 months. But most people only donate once in a few years, if ever,” says Mihir. “Our app has a reminder feature that notifies users when they can donate again.” The logistics of booking an appointment are covered as well, since the app allows users to easily locate a Red Cross blood bank, and book an appointment at a time that is convenient for them.
“Before, donors wouldn’t always know when and whom their donated blood was helping. Now, there is a clear record of everything,” adds Shivshankar, referring to the apps ‘transfer’ feature, which allows users to transfer blood to those in need, quickly and efficiently.
The unique concept has already captured the attention of netizens. It has had millions of impressions on social media, more than a lakh visits to the website, was the trending topic on Twitter a day before its roll-out, and has received an impressive rating of 4.8 on the Google Play Store.
“We call it a Blood Bank but nobody ever treated it as a bank. Now they’ve put the idea of banking into the concept. That is what attracted me to it,” says app user V Ranganathan. A 30-year-old marketing manager, Ranganathan first heard about blood banking on Facebook and was immediately hooked: “Often, seeking for blood becomes a call for mercy. With this app, instead of seeking it, I can withdraw it. I don’t have to depend on others for blood. And more importantly, I can also save a life. The potential for this concept is huge.”
“It is a world-changing idea and that is not something we say lightly,” Mihir says.
Currently operational in Bangalore alone, the company is looking at collaborating with Red Cross offices across the country and taking the idea national. They are already in talks with other countries and will soon be global.
The team also has several new features in the pipeline. “Currently, we have a ‘transfer’ feature but we are looking at a ‘request’ feature through which people can request others to transfer the required units of blood.We are also exploring the concept of a ‘joint account’ for family units. The idea is that since people over 60 cannot donate blood, but may require blood, they can draw it from a ‘common pool’.”
Featured image source: Mobile Commerce Press
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