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AT&T WIRELESS GRANT HELPS BLOOD CENTER USE TECHNOLOGY TO REACH BLOOD DONORS .

Blood Center and AT&T Wireless launch pilot program in King County

Sept. 14, 2004 -- SEATTLE, WA - Puget Sound Blood Center today announced that AT&T Wireless is providing a $25,000 grant to fund the deployment of an innovative program that will change the way the local blood supply is managed in emergency situations. The Blood Center, the state's largest blood center, will launch a pilot program -- the first of its kind in the country - enabling the organization to directly alert specific blood donors and volunteers in "real time" via wireless text messaging.

AT&T Wireless is funding a text-messaging pilot for six months to help the Blood Center target type O blood donors - a blood type that is in the greatest demand. Type O blood is considered the "universal donor" and can be transfused into any patient in an emergency.

On Sept. 15 at 10 a.m., the Puget Sound Blood Center will host a press conference and demonstration to introduce the pilot program, answer questions and show how text messaging will be used to contact donors. Puget Sound Blood Center is located at 921 Terry Ave., in Seattle. Members of the press are encouraged to attend.

The need to reach donors and volunteers quickly and effectively has never been greater. Emergency situations, such as automobile or other accidents, create an immediate, lifesaving need for specific blood types. Furthermore, the active lives led by blood donors or volunteers can make it challenging for the Blood Center to reach them quickly using email or phone calls.

The Blood Center regarded the decision to work with AT&T Wireless as a natural extension of its history in leveraging technology to improve operations, reduce costs and increase its donor base.

"Puget Sound Blood Center must retain donors and increase our donor base in midst of an aging population and increasing health screening limitations," said Dr. Richard Counts, CEO and president of Puget Sound Blood Center. "We currently utilize a combination of phone calls, email and online appointment scheduling to reach our donor and volunteer base. With the number of cell phones in use today, text messaging provides another avenue to efficiently reach our donors and volunteers in ways that are both convenient for them and resource efficient for us."

Though text messaging is not a new technology, the idea of utilizing it to communicate quickly with potential donors is. Text messaging has recently gained popularity through associations with several high profile entertainment organizations. Every day it is being used to enhance personal and business communications across the country. The idea of broadening use of the technology to save lives appealed to AT&T Wireless. "The Blood Center is a leader in utilizing technology and developing applications used nationwide to enhance its lifesaving programs," said Mike Maxwell, AT&T Wireless vice president of sales for Washington and Oregon. "AT&T Wireless is pleased to support a project that further advances text messaging, while helping the Blood Center improve or save lives."

Background on Pilot Program
The goal of the six-month pilot program is to seek permission and measure the willingness of donors and volunteers to respond to emergency requests to make blood donations or work shifts. Beginning late October of 2004, the program will target volunteers and donors in King County who have text-messaging enabled AT&T Wireless phones. The Blood Center will recruit existing donors but interested participants can register for the program by visiting www.psbc.org starting at the end of October, 2004.

During the study, the Blood Center will track the number of donors and volunteers reached, response rates from these groups, impact on blood inventory levels and volunteer shifts as well as overall feedback on the convenience and ease of use of the technology. Once data from the pilot program is evaluated, the Blood Center will consider expanding it to other blood donors and other counties it serves in Western Washington in 2005.

 


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