BACKGROUND: Blood centers and hospital transfusion services are challenged with maintaining an adequate platelet (PLT) inventory to minimize the number of outdated units without risking a major shortage. A novel approach to inventory management was established at our institution through a collaboration between the Stanford University Medical Center (SUMC) Transfusion Service, the Stanford Blood Center (SBC), and the Department of Management Science and Engineering.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: An analysis of the supply chain performance between SBC and SUMC Transfusion Service was performed. First, the interaction between processes, such as blood collection, rotation, and inventory management, was studied. Second, changes were implemented based on the recommendations from the analysis team. Finally, a postanalysis was performed reflecting on the improvement of the operations between SUMC and SBC.

RESULTS: A comprehensive data analysis of the PLT supply chain allowed the identification of three series of improvements to be implemented: 1) on SBC's PLT collection, 2) on SBC's rotation process, and 3) on the PLT inventory management policy at SUMC. A postimplementation analysis showed a reduction in the overall PLT outdate rate from 19% in the first quarter of 2006, down to 9% in the third quarter of 2008.

CONCLUSION: A multidisciplinary effort among SUMC Transfusion Service, SBC, and experts in supply chain management resulted in a process improvement, which reduced the rate of PLT outdate at both SBC and SUMC Transfusion Service down to 9%, with a significant cost reduction of more than half a million dollars per year.