SCBB CEO, Scott Bush, streamlines test operations and implements retention tactics

Sept. 25, 2018
Scott Bush
Chief Executive Officer
SunCoast Blood Bank

SCBB provides products and services for 12 hospitals and healthcare facilities in Southwest Florida. Scott has more than 20 years of experience in blood banking and joined SCBB in 2005 as Director of Donor Services and Recruitment. Most recently, Bush served as Chief Operating Officer, overseeing SCBB’s expansion into Manatee County, as the sole provider of blood products for Manatee Healthcare System. During his employment at SCBB, Bush was recognized as the Top 40 Under 40 by “Gulf Coast Business Review” in 2009 and also was awarded the Executive of the Year by the Florida Association of Blood Banks in 2008. Prior to joining SCBB, Bush worked with the American Red Cross for 15 years overseeing various departments within their biomedical service operation. Bush also served in the United States Naval Reserve where he received the Navy Medal of Achievement. Scott is a graduate of Ohio Dominican University.

SunCoast Blood Bank (SCBB) has been on the forefront in past years exploring new technology and was one of the first blood banks in the U.S. to implement pathogen reduction technology (PRT) for platelets. SCBB has continued to implement new software and harness new technologies. What advice can you offer other blood banks about the pathways to cutting-edge technology implementation and adoption?

For decades the traditional blood banking industry did not feel enough pressure to adjust to the nearly static landscape in which we operated. During the golden era of blood banking the techniques, processes, and procedures changed very little. Much of that has changed over this past decade, and I could easily argue that we are seeing more challenges and needed adaptations than at any time in our 70-year history.

Proactive evolution and new adaptations are essential for today’s blood centers to overcome our unprecedented external and internal challenges. Staying stagnant—or merely reacting slowly—to our changing environment could mean the difference of an organization that thrives or one that ceases to exist in their present state. The successful blood centers have stepped out of and away from the old business models and have embraced new technology for performing traditional core blood product business, which is at the heart of every blood center in the U.S.

As we witness the massive tidal wave of challenges barreling toward us, we at SCBB felt that it was imperative to embrace new technologies and concepts in order to stay ahead of the crushing wave. Using new technology in an older, antiquated blood banking model is a necessity to meet the ever-changing demands of this industry, as well as maintain the highest expectations of the community in which we serve. SCBB was the first blood center within the U.S. to adopt pathogen reduced platelet technology, simply because we felt that it was the safest platelet component that exists in the U.S. market. Keeping the focus on our community and delivering on our patient-centric mission, we therefore felt that we owed it to our community to provide the safest blood product available.

Pathogen reduced platelets significantly reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted infections as well as emerging pathogens. Platelets contaminated with bacteria remain one of the highest causes of transfusion-related mortality, and pathogen reduction is an added layer of protection for transfused platelets and improved patient outcomes.

Being entrusted with the stewardship of the community blood program also comes with it a great responsibility to manage its resources as effectively and efficiently as possible. This was also a driving force to becoming the first Certified Green Business Partner Blood Center operating within the U.S. Program certification includes an on-site verification of reduction, reuse and conservation practices in business operations, solid waste management, recycling, and energy and water consumption.

Even after SCBB became “green certified” we continued to make further improvements that have cut down material waste while also reducing operational cost. We have recently adopted two new computer technologies that will allow us to one day go virtually paperless for our operation and all record retention.

SCBB has also used new technologies to gain substantial growth in our annual plasma yields by automating all of our scales on our bloodmobiles and collection sites. This technology has completely paid for itself within the first 18 months of utilization. Assessing ROI and future challenges are import when determining what technology is best suited to improve your organization.

Embracing the need for new technologies is one thing, but getting those new technologies implemented was entirely different for our organization. Typically new technology takes a vast amount of human capital to bring it from a concept to conclusion.

In our organization people wear many hats, so adding extra work, time-consuming qualifications, validations, and trainings to an already streamlined workforce, is an enormous challenge. Without investing in more resources, it will make the internal deadlines very difficult to achieve. Therefore, budgeting for and providing extra time and support will make all the difference in properly harnessing the power and potential of the new technology. Without it, the organization may never unleash the full potential of the new technology. If the organization just doesn’t have the ability to add or acquire additional resources, a good option is to use a third party vendor to get your project across the finish line. Though this is certainly a viable solution, it should also be noted that after the project comes to an end, some of your system knowledge will also leave with the third party vendor at the completion of the project.

Adding new technology and finding new business solutions have been both challenging and rewarding for SCBB. Continually evolving in an ever-changing healthcare environment makes it essential for an organization to harness the advantages cutting-edge technology.