Blood banks: an interview with Celia Tombalakian, Worldwide Group Director, Immunohematology at Johnson & Johnson’s Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Inc. (OCD)

Published on October 29, 2012 at 10:57 AM · No Comments

Interview conducted by , BA Hons (Cantab)

Celia TOMBALAKIAN ARTICLE IMAGE

Please could you give a brief introduction to blood banks?

A blood bank is a place where blood is collected from donors, typed, separated into components, stored and prepared for transfusion to recipients. Aside from whole blood, blood banks store packed red cells, plasma, platelets and other blood products, all of which are used for trauma patients, surgeries, and blood transfusions.

A blood bank may be a separate free-standing facility or part of a larger laboratory in a hospital.

Behind the scenes, in laboratories and blood banks around the globe, thousands of skilled blood bankers work to ensure that safe, compatible blood is available where and when it’s needed.

How is the blood banking industry currently being transformed?

The blood banking industry is currently focused on improving blood transfusion safety and efficiency through technology solutions.

Over the past two decades, the number of highly skilled technologists and scientists entering the global transfusion medicine workforce has been shrinking. Automation, therefore, is becoming a standard part of blood bank laboratories because it can eliminate many of the labor-intensive, time-consuming manual testing processes involved in screening blood that require specialized skills and significant experience to master. Ultimately, automated testing can increase the lab’s capacity, allowing it to serve more patients while helping it operate more efficiently, even with a smaller staff.

Please could you tell us about the new Bloodbanker App?

The new ORTHO Pocket Blood Banker™ Application (app), which is available for use with AndroidTM and Apple® devices, is an educational reference tool for the immunohematology and blood bank community that conveniently combines two blood banking tools-- genotyping and antibody indexing.

Users can quickly determine genotypes based on interactions with the five principle Rh antisera through the Genotype Calculator, and learn more about particular antibodies with the Antibody Index.

The app is intended for use by health care professionals working in the blood bank field, but will also benefit students and educators, equipping future blood bankers with educational tools at their fingertips.

What are the benefits of this app over traditional blood banking tools?

Prior to the creation of the app, blood bankers used reference tools such as cardboard slide rules that provided information based on inputs. Drawing from a deep understanding of the importance of and need for innovation in the blood banking field, OCD identified the need for more advanced tools and developed this new technology. The app reinforces our commitment to providing innovative solutions to our customers.

Please could you give an introduction OCD’s virtual engagement platform, Ortho ON DEMAND?

Ortho ON DEMAND (www.OrthoONDEMAND.com) is an innovative virtual engagement platform that enables blood bank professionals to learn from and connect with global transfusion medicine experts on topics central to achieving science-driven safety and efficiency in the blood bank. The platform incorporates numerous resources for those seeking to increase their knowledge and make new connections related to blood banking.

How does this fit with OCD’s overall focus?

With OCD’s strong history in Transfusion Medicine, we understand the importance of supporting the industry through education and awareness. Because many of today’s blood bankers work longer hours with fewer financial resources, many laboratories have had to cut costs that previously supported educational career growth opportunities. Through our new platforms, we hope to help prepare blood bankers to address the growing demands for transfusion medicine expertise.

What impact do you think these initiatives will have on blood bankers?

Many of today’s blood bankers struggle to do more with less, working longer hours with fewer financial resources. At the same time, instrumentation is more complex and the number of transfusions is increasing globally.

In today’s environment of reduced resources, many laboratories have cut costs such as travel to learning events that could better prepare blood bankers to address the growing demands for transfusion medicine expertise. Ortho ON DEMAND addresses this challenge by providing transfusion medicine professionals with the ability to access educational content according to their own schedules, at no charge.

What impact do you think these initiatives will have on patients?

This innovative virtual engagement platform enables blood bank professionals to learn from and connect with global transfusion medicine experts on topics central to achieving science-driven safety and efficiency in the blood bank. The platform incorporates numerous resources, such as presentations from industry experts, for those seeking to increase their knowledge and make new connections related to blood banking, with the goal to ultimately benefit the people at the end of the bloodline—the patients.

How do you think the future of blood banks will develop?

While technology has made many routine blood bank tasks faster and easier, the demand for blood continues to rise and the pace of processing blood continues to accelerate. Hemovigilance and ensuring efficiency is of utmost importance to blood banks in maintaining a safe and accessible blood supply while keeping pace with accelerating demand for blood processing.

The future of blood banks lies in technological solutions that will allow blood bankers to increase safety and efficiency in order to provide the best possible outcomes for patients.

What are OCD’s plans for the future?

OCD is the global leader in Transfusion Medicine, stemming from a 70-year history of protecting the safety of the world’s blood supply. We intend to continue our leadership of the market into the future, both with our products and through our service and support of the blood banking community.

Would you like to make any further comments?

OCD’s understanding of the science of blood banking and the world of the blood banker is built upon years of listening to customers’ needs and devising safe and efficient solutions to address them. We are committed to the world of the blood banker and finding innovative methods of working to improve efficiencies.

Where can readers find more information?

www.OrthoONDEMAND.com

www.transfusionnews.com

Click Here to Download Pocket Blood Banker™ for Android

Click Here to Download Pocket Blood Banker™ for Apple

American Red Cross. Blood Facts and Statistics. Available at: http://www.redcrossblood.org/learn-about-blood/blood-facts-and-statistics. Accessed October 16, 2011.

About Celia Tombalakian

Celia TOMBALAKIAN BIG IMAGECelia Tombalakian is the worldwide group director of marketing for the transfusion medicine business at Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Inc., part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies. She has more than 15 years of progressive business leadership in the medical devices, consumer products, over-the-counter and pharmaceutical sectors with a focus on global market expansion, new product launch, and all aspects of brand identity development.

Most recently, Celia was regional director of marketing at Mentor Worldwide LLC, part of Johnson & Johnson’s medical devices & diagnostics sector. She has built her healthcare expertise through numerous roles in sales, new business development and marketing across sectors in both regional and global capacities.

Celia received her MSc and MBA for Marketing Management and Consumer Research Methodology from the University of Guelph in Canada.

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