The best way to review a product is to stimulate real life situations where one would actually use it. Then share your experiences both positive and negative for readers. Every once in a while by the stroke of destiny, we find ourselves in that perfect situation to try out the service in the environment for which it had been created for.
Having spent the past few days in a healthcare facility, I realized that the problem of blood requirement does find a valuable tool in the form SocialBlood, a Facebook app which aims to bridge the demand supply gap. Currently operating under closed beta, the team is constantly fine tuning the service to make it as hassle free and intuitive as possible.
SocialBlood is a for-profit social venture aimed at solving the problem of mismatch between the blood donors and receivers. Even by rough estimates, there is a severe lack of balance between the two. SocialBlood is one of those ideas that solves a social challenge and would perhaps manage to stay afloat by earning revenue. The venture was started by Karthik Naralasetty, after he heard the story of a young girl who died because she couldn’t get enough blood when she was in need. SocialBlood began as a Facebook hack which involved creating multiple groups catering to the different blood types. Far from the polished form which exists right now.
SocialBlood plugs into the Facebook for the obvious reasons of having everyone in one place. On syncing with the service, the user adds information like the city they are available in, geofence (for notifications for blood request), blood type and if they can donate blood. Then it pulls up list of connections that are already using the service.
The interface is fairly simple to use, the filters on the top bar help to narrow down on blood request and donors available for a particular blood type. The map pulls up that information with markings on the location and a legend is available for the assistance of first time users.
The beauty of a social platform like this is the fact that, it helps democratize and populate the system with the known network. We can scan the network for blood relations (known people with the same blood type as ours) and invite members which can be extremely useful during the time of distress.
The user can also make a blood request using a quick form asking critical questions. The user adds information like what component (red blood cells, plasma or whole blood) along with type is required and adding other details like the number of units required, the date of requirement and hospital name.
Challenges & Facts
A vast majority of the blood requirement in India fulfilled through voluntary blood donations and the rest are arranged by the relatives of the family and is referred to as replacement. This refers to people who donate blood only when required for family members and friends.
India requires 10 million units of safe blood which could be fulfilled by donation from only 1%-3% of the country’s population. But this mismatch between demand and supply costs many lives because sometimes blood is not available in time and sometimes the blood might be unsafe.
SocialBlood surely seems to be a step in the right direction. Rather than re-invent the wheel they are aiming to incentivize the platform. With the help of tie-ups with blood banks and hospitals, they are looking forward to a future where SocialBlood has gamified the system. The user would earn points for their friends who sign-up and for blood donation made through partner healthcare facilities. The user can now redeem these points for a number of healthcare benefits which is definitely a plus.
For the partners, SocialBlood would provide a platform to keep a track of their system and provide the ability to organize events and blood donation drives in their target region.