The Alliance of Blood Operators

Designing a framework for change

Decades after the public health tragedy involving the infection of the blood supply with HIV and Hepatitis C, blood operators have tended to default to a “zero risk” approach no matter the cost. The Alliance of Blood Operators (ABO)—a network of over 90 blood operators from North America, Australia, and Europe—wanted to shift the paradigm to a strategic and sustainable approach that weighs blood safety risks and benefits more rationally, thus allowing resources to go further and to the right solutions for the overall benefit of patients.

The first tool ABO wanted to develop in order to trigger and train this way of thinking among members was a step-by-step guide to the risk-based decision making framework that could be posted online. Parcel’s relationship with ABO member Canadian Blood Services—for whom we have designed print and digital communications for the last six years—made us a natural partner for the strategy and design of the tool. As we delved into the project, we felt immediately that the best form the tool could take was an interactive, navigable microsite that would lead members through defining, assessing, and making decisions around responding to risks to the blood system.

Parcel’s writer Gabrielle Bauer—who has long reported on health and medicine as a journalist—then took the next step towards creating this online tool for ABO. She pored over the 120-page document filled with academic language and with a lengthy background of risk-management principles and distilled it into a readable, logical series of steps for members to follow. The framework was made flexible enough for an international membership with a variety of policies and ethical concerns. And information immediately pertinent to a blood system risk was flowed into the steps, while background for further reading was made accessible to members when they had more time to become familiar with the foundations of the new paradigm.

Our design approach further organized and clarified the content. Inspired by the colour-coded wayfinding systems that you would find in a physical healthcare space, we took a highly complicated, lengthy process and made it easy to follow and impossible to get lost in. Each section is introduced with an animated rotating shape—inspired by the multi-disciplinary teams who use this tool to examine all the sides of an issue, the shapes become more complex as one progresses through the site. And for each step, blood system operators are guided through a number of tasks that correlate to interactive, printable worksheets that aid in the decision-making process.

Soon after ABO’s Risk-Based Decision-Making Framework for Blood Safety was officially launched, it was used by ABO member organizations and by others to help form risk mitigation strategies for key emerging risks. And as organizations start to use the framework, ABO has been testing how well the various components of tool work and has been gathering feedback. As they had hoped, the online tool has been both a concrete primer for the new framework, and a starting point for international dialogue about the shift.

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“The writer assigned to our project was a magician; she was able to transform a lengthy document that described complex theories into a step-by-step set of guidelines that are easy to understand and very user friendly. Parcel’s highly creative ideas helped make the online decision-making tool seem inviting and pleasant to step through.”

Sheila Ward, Partner, Industry Knowledge Integration

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