Introducing Kim, Quality Assurance Quality Assurance Specialist at DKMS

For those suffering with blood cancer, a bone marrow or stem cell transplant is the best chance for survival. For this spotlight, we’re pleased to introduce you to Kim Sivananthan, who works tirelessly behind the scenes at DKMS to help give patients a new lease on life.

DKMS was founded in 1991 after one family's struggle to find a lifesaving bone marrow donor. Today, it’s the largest donor center and advocacy organization in the world—with over 1.3 million new potential donors registered every year.

It’s that dedication to purpose that attracted Kim to the organization when she joined the quality assurance team in 2017.

We talked to Kim about what it’s like working for an organization that’s saved countless lives and her passion for using technology—like Docusign for Life Sciences—to maintain regulatory compliance, and accelerate donor clearances.

How did you get your start as a quality assurance specialist?

I have a varied employment history. I got my master's degree in public health—and I started getting more interested in regulation, inspection and compliance. When my husband and I moved to New York City, I worked for the USDA as a compliance inspector for a few years—but the scheduling was really hectic for me. The quality management program at DKMS was relatively new, so I saw an opportunity there for career and professional growth.

What do you love most about your role?

Being able to work in process improvement and forging relationships. The people who work for DKMS are really passionate about the cause and the work they’re doing to ultimately provide second chances of life for people. So, while my initial draw was a professional interest in process improvement—and having the ability to get in on the ground floor—what kept me there (even now as a consultant) is the passion of the people who work there.

What led you down the path to Docusign eSignature?

Our primary donor requests from transplant centers are for 18-24 year olds. They’re very often in college; sometimes they’re working a job or two or maybe even beginning a family. Getting all of the required paper documentation back from these digital natives was really challenging and starting to affect our conversion rate from when a donor was requested to whether or not they actually donated. So, we started researching electronic options.

Since you’re in such a heavily regulated industry, were there any compliance concerns or requirements that factored into your decision to use Docusign?

DKMS is beholden to 21 CFR Part 11, which is around electronic records for products that fall in the FDA’s wheelhouse. After sourcing a few different products and doing the demos with the Docusign modules for 21 CFR Part 11, we thought: This is really great. I pitched it to our CEO, and then she pitched it to DKMS Germany. There were a lot of stakeholder meetings, a lot more pitching... but in late 2018, we purchased Docusign's Life Sciences Modules for 21 CFR Part 11 and a standard Docusign account for other use cases.

What are using Docusign for today?

Since we rolled out Docusign, we’ve seen a lot of interest across the organization. We’re using it for all of our informed consents, health history screening questionnaires, medical suitability and eligibility paperwork, media release consent forms and even volunteer agreements. We've only increased our use.

What kind of feedback have you gotten from external users like the physicians you partner with at DKMS?

They love Docusign. They literally pull out their phones on their lunch breaks, review all of the donor medical files, and electronically sign the eligibility forms the same day. Before Docusign, we had 34 days between the time that a donor was declared eligible and we had a wet signature in hand. Now, it’s less than 24 hours—no more printing or scanning or overnighting paper documents. 

Read more about how DKMS streamlines compliance and donor outreach with Docusign eSignature.