Lean Six Sigma in Healthcare

Lean and Six Sigma Healthcare Articles

Review some of the latest thinking on quality strategy for the healthcare industry, and discover a variety of immediate impact ideas for your organization. These valuable resources are available for free by simply filling out a registration form.

Examples of Six Sigma Applications in Healthcare

Lean Six Sigma: Tools for Rapid Cycle Cost Reduction (PDF, 82 KB)
Senior healthcare leaders face unprecedented complexities in mobilizing their managers to reduce costs. Their anagers are out of ideas when it comes to improving cost performance. Astute leaders recognize the need for sophisticated methods and infrastructure. They need to take leadership roles in the deployment of Lean Six Sigma. Understand how Lean Six Sigma concepts improve an organization’s cost structure, and grasp several costing concepts that Lean Six Sigma aims to affect.
Healthcare Financial Management, October 2006

Faster Turnaround Time (PDF, 241 KB)
After seeing an increase in patient volume, North Shore University Hospital implemented Six Sigma to reduce worsening delays in bed turnaround time. In six months, the Six Sigma team decreased its mean turnaround time by 136 minutes.
Quality Progress, March 2006.

Engaging Physicians in Lean Six Sigma (PDF, 181KB)
If they want to engage physicians, hospital administrators must show how improvement projects benefit doctors.
Quality Progress, November 2005.

What's Wrong With Six Sigma? (PDF, 163 KB)
Many organizations experience disappointment with the results of their Six Sigma deployment efforts. This is because they may be applying Six Sigma on too grand a scale, when, in fact, its tools may be used separately or combined with other techniques. Five common problems encountered when undertaking Six Sigma deployment, and their remedies, are outlined to help companies cut costs and improve revenues.
Quality Progress, January 2005

Seduce Them With Success (PDF, 580 KB)
The first commandment of Six Sigma quality is that you must get top management commitment in order to succeed. The truth is that half the firms that have taken that path have failed. Six Sigma's strength is in resolving linear cause-effects, but culture change is a nonlinear phenomenon. For Six Sigma to succeed, you must get the commitment of the informal leaders. These are the experts everyone turns to for insights about that part of the business. Six Sigma is an idea that needs to reach epidemic proportions to convert a culture.
Quality Progress,
September 2005

21 Common Problems (And What To Do About Them) (PDF, 55 KB)
Organizations need to create a Six Sigma approach that avoids focusing on subsystems at the expense of the overall system. With systems thinking, Six Sigma deployment offers a roadmap that leads to new opportunities and helps organizations become learning organizations. A list of 21 frequently encountered situations clarifies why Six Sigma deployments don't always run smoothly.
Six Sigma Forum Magazine,  August 2005

Pursuing Perfection in Healthcare (PDF, 56 KB)
In response to the need for models of excellence in healthcare, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation initiated a Six Sigma type national demonstration program based on the premise that healthcare organizations can make quality a central business strategy and consequently gain outstanding patient outcomes and financial viability.
Quality Progress, May 2002.

Quality Intervenes At a Hospital (PDF, 139 KB)
The Nebraska Medical Center completed a Six Sigma project in its interventional radiology department to turn around a decline in patient volume and achieve higher satisfaction for patients, employees and referring physicians.
Quality Progress, February 2005.

Lean Six Sigma Reduces Medication Errors (PDF, 106 KB)
After a mid-sized hospital used Lean Six Sigma to change its policies and practices, errors dropped sharply, labor costs fell, patients were more satisfied and employee morale improved.
Quality Progress, April 2005.

Focusing on the Power of Six Sigma in the Healthcare Insurance Industry: Lowering Medical Costs While Improving Patient Service and Outcomes (PDF, 228 KB)
CIGNA, a national healthcare insurance company, uses Six Sigma to drive down costs while improving medical outcomes by applying a holistic three-tiered approach to implementation.
ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement, May 2005.

Toward Error Free Lab Work (PDF, 133 KB)
A project to reduce errors in the accessioning process (a registration process) at a lab that performs more than 3.5 million tests annually led to $339,000 in added revenue and cost reduction.
Six Sigma Forum Magazine, November 2004.

Six Sigma and Its Application to Healthcare: A Case Study (PDF, 981 KB)
This paper describes the application of Six Sigma as a strategy to improve a hospital medication administration system.
ASQ Annual Quality Congress proceedings, May 2003.

Application of Six Sigma to Reduce Medical Errors (PDF, 30 KB)
Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, used the Six Sigma methodology to reduce medication and laboratory errors and improve patient safety.
ASQ Annual Quality Congress proceedings, May 2001.

Six Sigma and the Future of Healthcare

Healthcare’s Horizon (PDF, 256 KB)
A look at the progress made in healthcare through Six Sigma applications and the realm of opportunities for the future.
Six Sigma Forum Magazine, February 2003.

Proving Six Sigma for Healthcare (PDF, 68 KB)
Six Sigma instructor Arvind Salvekar discusses project results and explains how Six Sigma can improve not only quality of care and patient satisfaction, but also staff satisfaction, productivity and the bottom line.
ASQ Six Sigma Forum Web site, April 2005.

Successfully Implementing Six Sigma

The Role of the Six Sigma Green Belt as Part of the Bigger Picture (PDF, 44 KB)
Green Belts no longer simply collect data as prescribed by Black Belts; they are rapidly being tasked with converting that data into useful information.
Excerpted from Chapter 1 of Bhisham C. Gupta and H. Fred Walker’s Applied Statistics for the Six Sigma Green Belt, ASQ Quality Press, 2005, pages 5-7.

Six Sigma: Avoiding the Seven Deadly Sins (PDF, 42 KB)
In an interview with ASQ’s Six Sigma Forum, James Zimmerman, Kepner-Tregoe, Inc., explains why some Six Sigma programs underperform and identifies project selection and performance management as keys to corrective action.
ASQ Six Sigma Forum Web site, January 2005.

Organizing Six Sigma Projects (PDF, 98 KB)
Prioritize projects by understanding how they fulfill a tactical and strategic purpose, remaining aware of the systematic and scientific nature of individual projects, and applying a Key Characteristics approach.
ASQ Six Sigma Forum Web site, October 2004.

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