Blood donation text message service in Sweden

Blood connects us all – blood donation text message service in Sweden

Only a quarter of blood donations in high-income countries come from young people (up to age 24). An initiative in Sweden lets blood donors know via text message when their blood has been given to a patient. This is one example of using technology to recruit new donors and to keep them donating. On 14 June, World Blood Donor Day, we thank blood donors for their life-saving gift, and underline the need for regular blood donation.

Source: Blood connects us all – blood donation text message service in Sweden


Arvid Öhlin was relaxing at home in Stockholm when he heard the familiar bleep of a text message, or SMS, arriving on his mobile phone. It was an ordinary event, but this was no ordinary text. It was a thank you, notifying him that the blood he recently donated had been given to a patient.

The text message initiative, launched last year by the Stockholm blood donation service Blodcentralen, uses technology to recruit and retain new donors. Donors receive an automated text telling them when their blood has made it into a fellow human being’s veins.

Arvid, aged 40, is now a veteran blood donor. He has given blood 26 times since he was 19 years old. He is so comfortable giving blood that he now takes his little son, Assar, along to the blood bank.

“I was at home the first time I got the thank-you SMS. It felt good and made me happy. It is really nice to get a confirmation that your blood is used,” he explains. When asked what he would say to others about giving blood, he says simply, “I think it is a natural thing to do – if you are able to, you should.”

High-income countries need to recruit more young people to give blood. The Stockholm service hopes their text messaging initiative will help them remedy shortages. According to Communications Manager Karolina Blom Wiberg, “We are convinced the SMS builds loyalty and the donors (including me) love getting them. They hit you right in the gut when you think that someone has in this instant been helped by my blood.”

Blood donation – key facts

  •  Of the 108 million blood donations collected globally, approximately half are collected in high-income countries, home to 18% of the world’s population. This is an increase of almost 25% from 80 million donations collected in 2004.
  • The blood donation rate is 36.8 donations per 1000 population in high-income countries, 11.7 in middle-income countries, and 3.9 in low-income countries.
  • 75 countries report collecting fewer than 10 donations per 1000 population. Of these countries, 40 are in the WHO African Region, 8 in the Region of the Americas, 7 in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, 6 in the European Region, 6 in the South-East Asia Region, and 8 in the Western Pacific Region. All are low- or middle-income countries.
  • The age profile of blood donors shows that proportionally more young people donate blood in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries (see Figure 1). Blood donor demographics are important for formulating and monitoring recruitment strategies.

Growing use of mHealth across European Region

According to the latest report on eHealth in the European Region, text messaging is widely used in mHealth (mobile health, including apps, wearable technologies and medical devices). Texts are used for sending appointment reminders and in health promotion, awareness raising and community mobilization campaigns. Yet, only 3 countries surveyed had government-sponsored mHealth programmes and few had conducted in-depth evaluations.

Claudia Stein, Director of the Division of Information, Evidence, Research and Innovation at WHO/Europe, explains that “recruiting and retaining young blood donors who will continue to donate for decades is essential to ensure a self-sufficient blood supply. This is a tremendously powerful use of text messaging as an eHealth tool to mobilize a community for the greater good, and could be adapted easily to other contexts and countries.”

World Blood Donor Day 2016

World Blood Donor Day is celebrated on 14 June. This year’s campaign, “Blood connects us all”, is an opportunity to thank blood donors for their life-saving gift of blood. It also aims to create wider public awareness of the need for regular blood donation, and to inspire those who have not yet donated blood to start. Regular, voluntary, unpaid blood donations are the foundation of a safe, sustainable blood supply.


Exercise and wearable fitness tech for older adults

Chronological age has no impact on health and well-being – per this study.  Apparently, blood pressure and cholesterol readings aren’t the whole story.  What matters more are sensory function, mental health, mobility and health behaviors. This is according to a summary of an abstract of research at the University of Chicago.  But it re-enforces other research about the correlation between exercise and warding off dementia.  And for those who never got around to exercise but have a fear of falling in their 80s and beyond, exercise like Tai Chi can restore balance in an 85-year-old, building confidence and reduce fall risk and fear of falling.

Exercise motivation – what gets older adults moving?  As the Tai Chi photograph shows, group exercise provides feedback and makes it fun for the participants.  SilverSneakers, an exercise program that originated in Arizona in 1992, morphed through multiple company shapes and sizes, and now is part of Healthways, which makes it available via Medicare insurance programs and fitness centers.  Okay, that was convoluted – but the net result is that Medicare Advantage plans like Humana and United Healthcare offer free gym memberships through their SilverSneakers partnerships – enabling and encouraging seniors to come to the gym, participate in social group classes, typically doing some exercise, including water aerobics classes in the pool at their level of comfort and widely variable level of fitness.

Exercise tech – what keeps older adults moving? Read more at:  Chronological age, exercise and wearable fitness tech for older adults

Mobile Health: Apps for Every Age and Ouch

The apps, sensors and seemingly unlimited data at our fingertips put people — not providers — in charge of their own health. Medical procedures that once cost thousands of dollars can be reduced to pennies in the form of an app.

This cool, interactive infographic gives examples and real-life experiences of people using mHealth apps for better health and well-being. Click on the link below to read more!

Explore how the recent explosion in mobile health and medical apps can impact every stage of a person’s life. And potentially, our health care costs.

Mobile Health: Apps for Every Age and Ouch

World’s first mobile hospital lab to help elderly

I found this short article through Healthcare Denmark. Check out their website to find out more about how health and social care is organized and carried out in Denmark, with some more great examples of using technology for health!

World’s first mobile hospital lab to help elderly

September 04, 2015

Mobil Lab
The world’s first mobile hospital laboratory for examination and treatment of elderly citizens in their own home, is now a reality in Denmark.

A collaboration between Køge Hospital and Køge Municipality has resulted in the development of the world’s first mobile hospital laboratory for examination and treatment of elderly and vulnerable citizens in their own home.

The mobile hospital laboratory is staffed with a biomedical laboratory technician from Køge Hospital and a nurse from Køge Municipality. They drive the mobile laboratory to the citizen’s home to examinate and take blood samples. The results are ready within 30 minutes and are sent directly to the citizen’s GP, who assesses whether there is a need for hospitalization or if treatment can take place in the citizen’s own home.

The target group consists of elderly and vulnerable patients who suffer from urinary tract infections, COPD, dizziness, dehydration, diarrhea, constipation or infections. With the mobile laboratory, many elderly can avoid a trip to the doctor or a stressful hospitalization and instead get their treatment at home.

8 companies that are changing aging

This article comes from CNBC, and is a topic I am particularly interested in as I also like studying and being an entrepreneur in the gerontology and gerontechnology field! Aging2.0 is a GREAT program that is helping to launch many innovative and socially-beneficial companies, all focused on making life more enjoyable for aging adults! I had the pleasure of meeting with Stephen Johnston, the other co-founder of Aging2.0, when working on launching a start-up focused on making it easier to find a helpful and useful Assistive Technology. You can read more about that on my page on Adventures in Entrepreneurship in Dementia Care.

Tapping into the longevity economy

—By Julie Halpert, special to
Posted 08 April 2015

The longevity economy, representing all economic activity serving the needs of Americans over 50, is expected to top $13.5 trillion by 2032, according to Oxford Economics. This opportunity isn’t lost on savvy entrepreneurs.

Out of a total 290 entrepreneurs who attended the annual Boomer Summit last month in Chicago, 40 percent were entrepreneurs hoping to pitch their products to potential investors and get ideas on how to best appeal to this demographic. That was twice the amount as the previous year, and for the first time, they came from many different countries.

Katy Fike, co-founder of Aging2.0, a start-up accelerator program, and founding partner of Generator Ventures, a venture fund focused on aging and long-term care, said the industry is attracting graduates from top-tier business schools. Some entrepreneurs have already developed particularly successful products geared toward the demographic shift. Many of these ideas sprung from a personal experience and a desire to solve a problem endured by a loved one.

Here are 8 business owners who have already found millions in the longevity economy.

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Telehealth terms defined

Glossary of telehealth terms

I drafted this glossary as part of my internship with the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe. There, I was working on the topics of eHealth and the Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities (and trying to bridge the two). Much of this material, I first gathered when I was teaching a Master’s Engineering course on Telemedicine Techniques and Aspects for Aalborg University Department of Electronic Systems in 2010.

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