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  • The mixed reality experience allows blood donors to visit a digital world while being fully aware of their surroundings for safe and relaxed donation
  • 68.4% of pilot study participants who reported fears about donation said the mixed reality experience helped ease feelings of anxiety
  • 89.2% of donors who tried mixed reality said they were likely to donate blood again
  • Innovation is intended to attract new donors and motivate a younger generation to donate blood

ABBOTT PARK, Ill., February 9, 2024 /CSRwire/ – A new study published online and available in the February print issue of the journal Transfusion shows that mixed reality technology developed by Abbott (NYSE: ABT) and Blood Centers of America (BCA) for use during blood donation helps ease donors’ feelings of anxiety and increases the likelihood that they will come back to donate to donate blood.

The results of the pilot study show that mixed reality is “an innovative technology that promises to increase donor engagement, satisfaction and retention,” the researchers said.

Abbott, the global leader in blood and plasma testing, has partnered with Blood Centers of America, the largest blood provider network in the U.S., to launch a mixed reality experience for blood donors in June 2023. It is now available at several donation sites around the country, including New York, Houston and the Chicago area. More blood donation sites will soon offer this experience.

Abbott and BCA’s mixed reality innovation is an immersive digital experience designed to improve the blood donation process, attract new donors and motivate a younger generation to donate blood. Donors wear lightweight mixed reality headsets to explore a digital world while being fully aware of their real-world surroundings. The effort aims to address the global challenge of maintaining a reliable blood supply.

The pilot study examined the experiences of 282 blood donors who tried mixed reality at 54 collection sites in Houston and the Quad Cities region in Iowa and Illinois.

Of the 142 donors who reported anxiety prior to donation, 68.4% said the use of mixed reality during donation reduced their reported anxiety. The most commonly cited causes of fear of donation were fear that donation would hurt, fear of feeling bad after donation, fear of needles, fear of fainting, and fear of the unknown.

Of the donors who tried mixed reality while giving, 89.2% said they wanted to come back to give again.

“We have found that using mixed reality when donating blood helps many donors relax and reduce stress,” said Dr. Theodore Kieffer, medical director of Abbott’s U.S. transfusion business and co-author of the study. “It is encouraging to see that this innovation will improve the blood donation experience and potentially inspire a younger generation to become donors.”

The mixed reality experience allows blood donation experts to safely conduct the donation and interact with donors at every step of the process. Because the mixed reality glasses are transparent, the donors’ eyes are always visible during the donation to ensure constant monitoring and evaluation.

The mixed reality experience was developed based on research that shows natural environments are the most preferred environment when donors donate blood. Participants visit a whimsical virtual garden while listening to soothing music, moving a cursor with their eye movement, and planting seeds that grow into colorful trees and flowers.

The innovation should help improve the sustainability of the country’s blood supply and attract younger people, as blood donation centers have lost about 30% of donors under the age of 30 over the past decade. On average, only 3% of the eligible U.S. population donates blood each year.

In the pilot study, 54% of donors with initial fear said they would use mixed reality again, with the greatest future interest being among young donors.

“The introduction of mixed reality to blood donation is a significant innovation, especially for attracting new donors. By making the donation process more engaging and less intimidating, this innovation can play a critical role in increasing blood supply,” said senior Jennifer Kapral, vice president of the Blood Centers of America and co-author of the study. “Mixed reality helps modernize the donation experience and may also increase the frequency and number of younger donors. It can really make a difference in getting more people interested in giving while also making it more fun.”

Mixed Reality is part of Abbott and BCA’s broader, ongoing efforts to encourage younger people to donate blood, motivate first-time donors and educate a new generation to sustain the nation’s blood supply. In 2023, the combination of these efforts helped donations among 16- to 24-year-olds increase by 11%.

The pilot study was conducted in February and March 2023 at sites operated by Impact Life of Davenport, Iowa and Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center in Houston. Researchers from Stanford University and Stanford Blood Center, Johns Hopkins University and Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Abbott, Blood Centers of America, Impact Life and the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center conducted and authored the study.

To learn more about donation locations offering mixed reality, visit bethe1donor.com/mixedreality.

About Abbott:

Abbott is a global healthcare leader, helping people at all stages of life live more fulfilling lives. Our portfolio of life-changing technologies spans the entire healthcare spectrum and includes leading companies and products in diagnostics, medical devices, nutrition and branded generics. Our 114,000 colleagues care for people in more than 160 countries.

Connect with us at www.abbott.com and on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, X and YouTube.

SOURCE Abbott

For more information: Abbott Media, Patrick O’Connell, 847-282-2649; Investor Relations, Ryan Aliff, 224-667-2299

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About Abbott and the Abbott Fund

The Abbott Fund is a philanthropic foundation founded by Abbott in 1951. The Abbott Fund’s mission is to create healthier global communities by investing in creative ideas that advance science, expand access to health care and strengthen communities worldwide. For more information, visit www.abbottfund.org.

Abbott is a global, diversified healthcare company dedicated to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals and medical devices, including foods, devices and diagnostics. The company employs almost 90,000 people and markets its products in more than 130 countries. Abbott press releases and other information are available on the company’s website at www.abbott.com.

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