Neptune Festival 2019 - making the world a better place, the Bloodmates story

Profile picture for user gonzodaddy By Den Howlett June 19, 2019
Neptune has built a mobile app to help Bloodmates reach more blood donors in an efficient manner. Here's the background.

Just about every software company I come across wants to make the world a better place. Few get off their corporate backsides to deliver on the promise. One exception I'd been hearing about was showcased at Neptune Festival 2019 when Abesh Bhattacharjee lead developer, took to the stage to outline the genesis of a solution designed to help Bloodmates match blood donors and patients.

As with many such initiatives, this arose out of a personal story of need but to get that context, you need to listen to the recorded presentation above. 

As background, Bloodmates is one of many Indian nonprofits that organizes the collection and distribution of blood. While that sounds familiar, what makes their work especially vital is the fact that it is remarkably difficult to get blood when needed in India. This from Wikipedia outlines some of the major constraints

According to a 2012 report by the World Health Organization, only 9 million blood units are available annually, whereas the demand is 12 million units. Disparities in access =f donors in different areas have led to wastage of blood stock in some parts of the country, while at the same time creating a shortage of blood in some other parts. Due to substandard medical facilities and practices in many parts of the country, there have been cases of transmission of infective diseases like AIDS. A study conducted between 2009 and 2013 concluded a high rate of non-compliance on the part of blood banks on the quality and safety of transfusion services. Voluntary blood donation comprises about 70% of the blood demand, with the rest coming from replacement donors, whereas 62 nations in the world fulfill their blood demands through voluntary donations. A study conducted in 2011 reports that a mere 6% of women donate blood, mostly due to physiological problems and low hemoglobin count. Other hurdles in increasing voluntary blood donation include the fear of pain and weakness after the procedure, and illiteracy.

Bloodmates works out of a Facebook group. It doesn't have a dedicated website but uses the social features of Facebook to reach donors and patients. 

Given how Bloodmates is set up to reach its audience, the obvious solution would be to develop a smartphone app. But as was pointed out, internet connectivity in India is often spotty, especially in rural areas. Therefore, the team developed an app that makes use of SMS messaging to let donors know when blood is needed when donation camps are set to appear and to help Bloodmates better organize their own records. Crucially, the app is not dependent upon an 'always online' presence since it works offline using the Neptune DX platform.

One of the early benefits for Bloodmates is that it can store and retrieve information about donors so that when Bloodmates has a call to action, volunteers don't have to sift through spreadsheets to figure out who they should be targeting for invitations to attend. This represents an important time saver while improving data accuracy. 

There is much more that can be achieved but this is a good start. Oh and yes - Neptune stands behind its application as part of its philosophy of giving back. 

Here is an introductory video which explains the Bloodmates vision and how Neptune has provided help in this vital cause.