Needed: A Market for Blood

July 23, 2012
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The status quo:

The status quo:

  • The American Red Cross is easily the largest player in the sector — it controls 44 percent of the nation’s blood supply — and its lack of innovation has allowed for stagnation.
  • Under the status quo, hospitals rely upon donations from local donors who are within driving distance, creating an inefficient market that sells the same goods at different prices simply because they are in different locations.
  • For example, a pint of blood might cost a hospital $210 in Wisconsin but $265 in New Jersey.

Furthermore, the current market allows these isolated regional markets to waste product.

  • By confining purchases to local operations, some hospitals find themselves with unexpected surpluses while other hospitals in other areas are in dire need.
  • Additionally, hospitals with surpluses often fail to use blood before it expires, contributing to national figures for wasted blood that government data peg at between 5 and 14 percent.
  • Given that red blood cells have a shelf life of 42 days and platelets can last for five, there is no reason that blood resources cannot be more efficiently allocated among the nation’s health care providers.

Entrepreneurs hope to change all this.