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Using Technology and Marketing to Ease the Organ Donor Shortage

Using Technology and Marketing to Ease the Organ Donor Shortage
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A few months ago, I came across the Fast Company article “Can This New Startup End The Organ Donor Shortage Forever?” The company, ORGANIZE, is using technology and marketing in an effort to “dramatically increase the number of organ donors in the U.S. and create the first central organ donation registry.” Curious how technology and marketing were being used to fuel this venture, I followed up with ORGANIZE.

My first question was how registering to be an organ donor on ORGANIZE’s site or app was different from registering elsewhere. According to the Fast Company article, “There are 52 organ donation registries throughout the country, and they don’t work with each other.” That’s where the central organ donation registry comes in. When I reached out, ORGANIZE cofounders Greg Segal and Jenna Arnold explained* how organ donor registration is different with ORGANIZE:

Ease and accessibility of registering

First, they said, ORGANIZE’s technology makes becoming an organ donor easier and more accessible. This is significant because, according to ORGANIZE, the current venue and way of registering is a major barrier in itself to donor registrations.

“The overwhelming majority of registrations currently take place at the DMV, where individuals often opt not to become donors by default due to lack of time, patience, or space to adequately contemplate the decision,” explained the cofounders. “An online method of registration exists, but it is rarely used since it is relatively unknown, very outdated, and difficult to navigate. ORGANIZE’s streamlined website and mobile technology simplify and enable registration from virtually anywhere, increasing the number of opportunities available to become an organ donor.”

Developing a single registration system

So, what is the technology? It’s a simple form accessible via desktop browser, tablet, and a mobile app, as shown below.

Organize - The Solution

The registration process takes a few minutes, and ORGANIZE is in the process of working with the states one by one to arrange for them to accept these registrations. When the Fast Company article was published, “the state of Utah [had just] announced that it [would] accept registrations from ORGANIZE’s mobile app into its organ donor registry.” Since the article was published, Michigan started accepting registrations.

Second, explained the cofounders, the ORGANIZE system “is fundamentally different from conventional registration in its national scale.” As mentioned above, the organ system is currently made up of 52 separate registries that don’t work together. This is problematic because the registrations do not automatically “follow” individuals to other states. If someone dies in a state other than the one in which they registered, their donor status and information could go to waste.

ORGANIZE has responded to this “fractured structure,” as its cofounders describe it, by developing this single system for registration from which they hope each state will accept registrations.

Making marketing and technology integral to the solution

Third, social media is important to ORGANIZE’s work. Not only is it important to let people know that a single system for donor registration even exists; it is also important to provide a space where people can make their intent for organ donation clear. Why? Because donor registration isn’t the only variable to consider.

As mentioned in the Fast Company article, “intent is just as important as consent. If your next of kin thinks you’d want to be an organ donor, you can be an organ donor, even without having formally registered.”

Social media can be instrumental in this process by helping to provide evidence of that intent. Rather than adding to the already disparate systems surrounding organ donation, ORGANIZE is including this social media activity with an individual’s registration status as part of the overall ORGANIZE package. This information will then be given to next of kin to aid them in deciding whether to make their loved one an organ donor.

How ORGANIZE has developed over the last few months

In addition to Michigan agreeing to accept registrations through ORGANIZE, cofounders Segal and Arnold say the organization has partnered with “major players in the tech and public health space.” These include Facebook and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, all of which ORGANIZE hopes will help them increase their reach at a faster pace.

In June Segal and Arnold presented at the Health Data Palooza conference. “[We] are humbled to have been awarded the TRIBECA Disruptive Innovator Award,” they saidS. We’re also thrilled to have been named in Inc. Magazine’s 35 Under 35 and featured in the July issue of O Magazine.”

If you would like to get involved in ORGANIZE’s efforts by registering or sharing their work with your social media networks, visit their website at http://organize.org or tweet them @organ_ize.

* The preceding interview was done via e-mail. All referenced statements were on behalf of ORGANIZE and its cofounders, Greg Segal and Jenna Arnold.

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