Bloodhound Knight News Challenge

The Dark Knights, Meg Bond, Ben Meyers, Barbara Klenke

Project Title: Bloodhound

Requested Amount: $30,000

Expected Amount of time to Complete Project: 1 year.

Describe your Project: 500 words

Our app would ultimately encourage people to donate blood. It is a way for users to be more involved in the blood donation process. It will have components beneficial for all individuals: people who have donated before and those that have not.  Our app will create a more efficient blood donation process, while also providing a personalized experience.

The app would include the creation of a user profile, which would be conducted through a questionnaire when first opened. The questionnaire would include questions that would determine whether the user is eligible to donate blood by asking questions regarding their travel history and medication. Additionally, the app would also include a page of frequently asked questions and basic information about donating blood.  We have observed that people, who are not informed about their own eligibility and the basics of the blood donation process, are less likely to donate. This will place personalized and general information into the hands of user and increase the likelihood that they continue with the donating process.

Following the creation of a profile, users will be informed of all blood donation centers based on their GPS location. With a template similar to the popular app, Urban Spoon, each blood donation center will be presented with the following information: hours of operation, appointment schedule, wait times of lines, and other Facebook friends that have donated blood at that location. To avoid time waiting in line, each donation center will have the option of arranging an appointment online. Allowing a user to easily schedule an appointment in between their academic schedule. Additionally, if the person would prefer to walk-in appointment, the wait time of the lines would be presented. To encourage users to donate blood, Facebook friends who have donated blood will also be presented on each donation center page.  These components of the app will improve the donation process by shortening the time individuals have to wait in line. Additionally, our app will provide push notifications to remind users to donate blood and alert users when there is an increased need for blood. Our app follows users throughout every step of the blood donating process. It provides constant encouragement to keep donating blood, and to keep saving lives.



Urban spoon template.


Applications: questionnaire to see if you are eligible for blood donation, current locations of blood donation centers and information about them (walk in availability/appointment only/hours of operation), push notifications regarding when there is a need for blood (and especially for your type) and when you become eligible to give blood, profile of user (including blood type, location, blood donating history, donating limit),  frequently asked questions/concerns (for new users), setting appointments at the locations around you, wait times at locations, connect to facebook (tell your friends on facebook you donated blood, how many people have checked in to the blood donation center/ increase blood donation participation if you see all your friends going), total amount of blood donated per location/ community, keep track of your vitals history.


What unmet need does your product meet? 200 words


According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds, someone new in the US needs blood. Still, a quarter of eligible donors do so, 10% of all adults. Since only 50% of volunteers donate regularly, our app encourages more people to donate and to do so more frequently. We hope that this app can be expanded to have farther reaching effects in Michigan and on a national scale. Blood donations are always needed, especially in emergency relief or after natural disasters, with this winter being a prime example of extreme cold conditions that caused fewer donates and thus blood shortages. The goal of this app is to make blood donation simpler and more effective. Currently, donors often become aware of blood drives through public service announcements, social media, or regular calls made by the American Red Cross. This app encourages and routinely reminds volunteers to donate blood all year round, collecting as much blood as possible for the more than 41,000 blood transfusions that are needed daily. Additionally, this app allows blood donors with busy schedules to find accurate, up-to-date wait time for blood drives in their area, so they can register and enter their information through the app and decrease the number of donors stuck waiting in line.


Interview four potential users of your product about this unmet need. Do not tell them about your idea. Just explore their need. What did you learn? Include names and contact info for interviewees and a few words describing each — age, gender, occupation, town where of residence. Go for variety. 200 words


After interviewing a variety of individuals about the blood donation process, there appears to be an overall need to encourage more people to donate. John Pham, Blood Services Volunteer Coordinator at the Ann Arbor donor center, explains that it is difficult to get people to donate blood all throughout the year. A previous chair of the University of Michigan blood battle, Betsy, worked with the Red Cross to set up the blood drives, and observed that it is difficult for students to dedicate time waiting in line with a busy academic schedule. A student and frequent blood donor, Matt Freifeld, shared Betsy’s same concern over the waiting period. He mentioned how it is a pain to wait in line with a busy college schedule. Student, Kaitlynn Wargo, has never donated blood, and doesn’t know anything about the process or her eligibility. Additionally, she has no current incentive to research the information herself. Overall, there is a constant need for blood donation. However, long waiting times, lack of an easy appointment scheduling system, and a lack of easy access to personalized information about the donating has deterred or provided difficulty for individuals from donating blood.



How big is the potential market for your idea? Mention sources for any statistics you use. 100 words


The U.S. collects 15.7 million blood donations in a year from 9.2 million unique donors, according to the Red Cross. Giving blood only takes 15 minutes, but the whole process takes 1.5 hours. Consequently, our program lets a huge number of donors save a ton of time. Blood drives save money or get more donors. The Red Cross has a website to explain some eligibility requirements and schedule appointments but it is disorganized and confusing to navigate. Other blood drive apps are not popular and don’t provide information, scheduling, and social media services in one place.


How is your idea innovative — new or different from something already existing? Name your closest competitiors – 200 words


Existing apps related to blood donations and that are specifically for blood donors are currently only available for specific locations rather than for all applicable US donors. Apps such as iDon8 for blood donors in the Northeast Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina areas and The Blood Center Mobile for donors in the southeast Louisiana and coastal Mississippi areas are implemented by private donation centers and thus can only reach a specific population of donors and potential donors. Additionally, apps that can be used to connect with donors regardless of location, such as Emergency Blood Bank Directory and Blood Buddy lack certain functions such as the connections to social media such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as other features such as scheduling appointments, push notifications, and GPS capabilities. Our app will provide information about donating blood in a concise manner, and in one location, with the added benefit of allowing donors to connect with their communities via social media regarding their donations.


How will your idea be financially sustainable? 150 words


The grant money received through the Knight Challenge would allow us to construct our app, an efficient blood-donating tool. Our overall goal, in terms of financials, is to make an app that would be desirable to companies. Ideally, we would want the American Red Cross association to sponsor our app because it has the potential to increase blood donations, and would be a beneficial tool for their organization. However, if the Red Cross is unable to do so, any company that is willing to support an app that will save lives is a valuable alternative. Sponsorship is the ideal method to allow our app to be financially stable. We do not wish to make users pay, or annoy them with ads. A sponsor would allow us to focus on improving the application rather than on making money.


Why are you and your team the right people to develop this project?  100 words

Our team has experience with these services in an environment that harbors a great app.

Barbara and Ben donate blood. We know the process and difficulties involved. Meg has never donated, providing a perspective of a prospective donor. We have professional and personal experience with social media and took courses on behavior change.

We have access to a ~50,000+ population, and blood donations are popular. This allows for early and wide reach. UM also “Blood Battles” Ohio State, with which we can coordinate. We can make a great app because UM has excellent engineering and computer science.



4 Responses to “Bloodhound Knight News Challenge”

  1. Bloodhound Knight Team,

    Cool name, I love the word play. Overall this seems like a well thought out idea that addresses a very real problem that blood collection agencies face.

    Just from reading this proposal, and as a person who has never donated, this application does seem to be geared more towards the experienced donator, and less towards the person who is on the fence about it. One thing that I think worries potential donors is the health consequences of donating (i.e. fatigue, dizziness, etc). Perhaps your app could include a suggested diet for the days before the donation to minimize these consequences, and for the day(s) after the blood has been given. Maybe the app could also have a section where the user can watch filmed interviews with experienced donors offering advice and support to newbies (for example, I’ve heard you’re not supposed to look at the blood being drawn for fear of nausea) – support is always more convincing coming from a real person rather than written down!

    Overall, great job.


  2. I really applaud your group’s mission to promote blood donation!

    While I understand, the basis of your application, I have a few suggestions and points that you may want to re-examine to make your idea even better! I think that this is such an interesting idea, especially if it can be utilized by a huge population. I’m not sure, however, why this app would MAKE people more willing to donate. If people are really interested in donating blood, i think that they will find the information. I think your group needed to talk more about how you’re targeting the people who are unfamiliar with the process and might have doubts. Could there be an incentive program to this application? Teaming up with businesses to do certain giveaways or rewards after a person has donated a certain number of times or if they donate in a certain time frame where the blood supply is drastically low, could achieve more rewarding effects.

    In your interview you talked about Kaitlyn not having any current incentive to research the information for herself. I’m not sure how this app would be incentive enough since she has to do the same type of thing she would need to do on the Red Cross website. For this app, she would even need to create a user profile which seems like an extra step.

    There is also mention about waiting times. I think you could possibly clarify how this application would make that calculation, and if this would be measured by day or by hour.
    Could people sign up to donate blood on your app? I feel like that could cut down a lot of time, and be an incentive!

    Overall, it’s a good idea, and I look forward to hearing the final pitch!

  3. Dark Knights (love the name!)
    I think this is a really fantastic and intriguing idea. One thing that I especially enjoy is the wait times at certain clinics or events. It reminds me of apps they have for Disney World and other amusement parks where you can check on wait times so you know what time to head over. They do this by asking users to participate and insert the wait time that they observed while at the ride, but for your purposes it might be easier to ask nurses or volunteers to serve this purpose? It also has trends for times of the year and time of day so you can predict when to go to your favorite attractions. I know this works out really well for me when I’ve used it and I know that if I had an app telling me that there was no wait at certain venue, it would be a big incentive to just go out and do it.

    Something that I don’t see here (I might have just missed it) is that the app could tell the user what to eat before they donate and other health factors that will ultimately make their experience easier. I know that I usually forget or skip lunch, and this makes blood donation nearly impossible.

    I like the idea of push notifications too because it’s much more convenient than the current system (at least at the university) where they call to remind you of events. This gets tedious and annoying, while push notifications are much easier to manage.

    I think this idea is really wonderful and I think it’s great that you are pursuing such an important public health issue. Wish you all the best!!

  4. I really enjoy this idea! There are few things that we really NEED to survive and obviously blood is one of those things. I think it isn’t touched on as much as food and water are.

    Blood is an amazing part of life because we all have it and we can give it to each other! One thing about blood dontation and the process behind it, IT IS DATED AND IT TAKES TOO LONG! There has to be a way for us to make it more efficient. This application, done properly, would be a fantastic answer! You guys did a really great job thinking of a part of our world that needs some kind of updating that definitely gets over looked.

    I agree with the above comment about having a feature on the application that gives people advice on what to eat or drink before giving blood. Another interesting part of the application could be graphics showing how much of what kind of blood is collected. What types are we low on? Illustrate the figures so people know they are needed!

    Being able to maintain a profile would make it so much easier for people to donate blood! Applause for this idea. I am sure we have all had some one in our lives in the hospital that needed blood while there. I know I have and giving blood became a very important thing for me to do because of that. Maybe having a place for stories of how blood donations helped people out would be interesting to read too.

    This is a fantastic idea. Thank you for thinking of it and sharing!

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