4 threats to the US blood supply

Researchers highlighted numerous factors hindering the sustainability of the nation's blood supply in a new study from RAND Corporation.

For the study, researchers analyzed data pertaining to blood supply and costs from the CMS, CDC and Food and Drug Administration. They also conducted interviews and focus groups with representatives from 10 blood centers, eight hospitals, and 11 corporations that supply equipment and services to blood centers and hospitals from February 2016 to June 2016, according to the report. Researchers held separate conversations with blood experts from various governmental organizations — including the CDC, CMS, FDA, HHS and the National Institutes of Health — in the same time period.

Here are four factors researchers identified as threats to the U.S.'s blood system.

1. Medical advances. Over the last 10 years, the emergence of new medical advances — like less invasive surgeries and new drugs — has lowered the demand for blood. In the same time period, the size of the country's blood collection and distribution system slightly decreased, but not enough to match waning demand, according to the report.

2. Hospital consolidations. Hospital mergers and acquisitions have also grown more prevalent in the last decade, shifting negotiation power away from blood centers to hospital buyers. This shift in power has increased competition among blood centers and dropped blood prices, hurting blood center's already thin profit margins and revenues, according to the study.

3. New pathogens. The emergence of new pathogens — like Zika virus — tack on additional production and testing costs for blood suppliers.

4. Donor shortage. Researchers said a shrinking pool of active donors is also limiting the country's supply of blood.

To view the full report, along with researchers' proposed solutions to these threats, click here.

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