Plasma is central to our business, with 80% of our supplies coming from company owned donation centres.
Each plasma donation session takes between 45 and 90 minutes and between 300 and 880ml of plasma is taken.
Learn more about our donor centers
Plasma collection is the foundation for our work and, in 2019, Octapharma further expanded its network of plasma donation centres in order to reach a growing number of donors. But what exactly does opening a new donor centre mean in practice?
We looked for answers to this question in conversations with USA-based Octapharma Plasma, Inc. (OPI) leaders Alice Stewart, Bill Griner, Carole Michelson and Jonathan Prater.
At Octapharma, patients are our ultimate stakeholders; but our donors are clearly also fundamental stakeholders in the business. Carole Michelson, Senior Director of Operations, Centre Development, notes that: “Donors are our fundamental stakeholders – plasma based therapies are dependent on people being willing to donate. I always thank the donors for coming in.”
Plasma is central to our business, with 80% of our supplies coming from company owned donation centres. In 2019, continuing the significant investments of recent years, we invested heavily in our plasma collection facilities. In the past few years we have more than doubled our fleet of plasma donation centres.
“It’s important to remember that our business is built upon donors volunteering to help us,” says Jonathan Prater, Senior Director of Operations. “In order to ensure the future supplies of our life-saving products for patients, we need donor volunteers. Therefore, we need to ensure the right places for our donation centres.” Jonathan and his team in North Carolina, USA, are responsible for the site selection process for new centres. They make a basic reconnaissance of a potential location by analysing several demographic data sets, always looking for sites which best fit the needs of the organisation and which – of course – offer easy access for new donors. But, as Carole adds: “Many times, new donation centre launches depend on myriad details determined by external factors, and coherence and efficiency are vital elements to succeed.” Bill Griner, who runs the Operations and Marketing team, also plays a vital role in the process from the outset.
Bill and his team are heavily involved in market analysis, as well as creating ambitious marketing strategies, goals and objectives for new centres.
For Bill, “Clarity and prioritisation of what will make a launch a success, as well as differentiating it from the competition, are paramount elements when carving out a market strategy for a new centre.”
Bill’s team knows that meeting ambitious goals requires everyone’s continued commitment and strong collaboration across the organisation, as well as audacity and expertise. He explains that, beyond the core Octapharma values, OPI leaders aspire to create a culture in which teams feel inspired. “We work in a culture in which leaders serve their people from the bottom up by setting clear goals, removing obstacles and empowering their teams.”
Opening and maintaining a new donation centre is not an easy task, demanding a coordinated effort which affects every department at OPI. As well as managing a dedicated team driving the process from the initial site selection to opening a donation centre, Carole also oversees training for employees. “My job is to create open and inclusive environments that are productive and where people come to work thinking they can be the best version of themselves,” she notes, adding: “and with the right people on board, we can create a culture that can be our unique competitive advantage to drive business and innovation for patients.”
Besides expanding its network of plasma donation centres, Octapharma has also invested in state-of-the-art collection devices and operating systems. The result for the organisation is that OPI is now equipped with a new donor management system which captures data for all collections in every centre. The project was begun just one year ago and was successfully completed in 2019. “It is the ‘brain’ of OPI from a system perspective,” says Alice Stewart, Senior Director of Operations & Supply Chain, adding: “We know how much hard work and effort has gone into this.” Every donor is registered on the new system, which records their full name and other relevant information. The new system supports other donation centre systems also in place to manage quality, safety and traceability.
Delivering such a complex system in a short period of time, while maintaining existing systems, was a massive challenge. The completion of the project was only possible because of the outstanding collaboration of the various implementation teams, who achieved their success through sheer hard work whilst always focusing on the wider Octapharma vision of ‘providing new health solutions advancing human life’. “This collaboration has been one of the critical success factors of OPI and is something we are proud of,” says Bill.
At the heart of every donation centre – whether long established or newly opened – there is an unwavering commitment to our patients. It is a powerful motivation for our more than 4,200 passionate and dedicated OPI employees who successfully navigate more than 20,000 donors across the USA every day.
As Carole puts it: “If we believe in ourselves and do what is correct according to our conscience, taking ownership for our actions, success is more likely to follow. Patients are at the heart of everything we do.”
And this message is a powerful motivation for our donors. “Donors express many different reasons for donating. Some give plasma to earn supplemental income, others donate to save a life, and still more donate because they have either been a patient, or know someone who has benefited from the medicines we help make,” says Jonathan, adding: “And there are countless stories of patients who use our products and are able to live better lives. And all of those stories are incredibly inspirational!”