This is the U.S. Healthcare System’s Biggest Problem

The healthcare system that exists today in America is a complex web of contradiction.

On one hand, it offers amazing advances in technology and treatment, but on the other, it’s continually overburdened by errors, inefficiencies, resource constraints and other issues threatening the safety and accessibility of patient care.

Six Sigma consulting in healthcare can tighten up those processes, reduce errors, increase accountability, and streamline every level of the industry. By the same token, 5s workplace organization involves the systematic identification and elimination of waste using proven principles that define value-added vs. non-value-added activity. 

Lean management principles are nothing new. In fact, they have been used effectively within manufacturing companies for decades now. You see this a lot in Japan, but these lean principles are now being successfully applied to the delivery of healthcare in this country more and more, according to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement

There are many ways in which these approaches can help any organization within the healthcare sector.

Define and Eliminate Errors

Errors and variability undermine the delivery of effective, safe patient care. Six Sigma is well suited to address disparities while helping to foster a stronger healthcare system by reducing variations and defects within the process.

Promote Quality

Over the years, the healthcare industry has used many methods to attempt to increase quality and reduce costs across the board, such as reengineering, TQM, PDSA, CQI, SPC, and PICOs, but they all had some kind of gaps, with improvements being mostly unsustainable. Lower cost and higher quality don’t always gel with objectives. Often, raising the level of quality eliminates the need for rework, which leads to higher readmission rates.

Six Sigma can produce better results than other approaches because it’s a robust, highly- disciplined strategy that’s based on statistical techniques and tools meant to identify and eliminate defects.

Six Sigma vs. Standard Quality Initiatives

There are many differences between Six Sigma and standard quality initiatives. 

For example, with Six Sigma, projects are carefully selected to focus on customer requirements, while in standard quality initiatives, projects are driven by the quality department and aren’t necessarily aligned with organizational objectives. 

Six Sigma targets variation within processes, while standard quality initiatives look primarily at averages. 

Six Sigma is a phased, highly structured methodology that’s built around statistical analysis and rigorous metrics. Projects do not proceed from one phase to the other until all of the criteria are met and the data has been validated.

However, with standard quality initiatives, some familiar statistical tools applied with far less rigor or structure.

And while Six Sigma incorporates strong dashboard tools to maintain long-term improvement, standard quality initiatives generally don’t have built-in mechanisms for assuring changes won’t come undone over time.

With a Six Sigma approach, you can: 

  • Reduce time-consuming rework within clinical diagnosis approvals between the insurance company and healthcare provider
  • Fill prescriptions right the first time
  • Improve nurse scheduling
  • Streamline the process for patient reimbursement claims
  • Improve hospital communications and supply chain procedures for supplies and equipment
  • Slash how long takes to process and visit with a patient, of particular concern in the ER
  • Improve OR procedures and scheduling
  • Manage the flow of information inter-departmentally
  • Optimize performance of all critical departments and service lines
  • Boost hospital and clinical maintenance

Making Changes in Human Behavior

Doctors tend to be very receptive to the concept of Six Sigma because it’s an evidence-based and scientific way to solve problems. When considering a transformation of the health care system as we know, it’s not just about tweaking data points on some impersonal chart; rather, it’s about changing human behavior. 

Success will require supporting the statistical methodology with facilitation techniques and change management. If you don’t address the acceptance part of the equation, hospitals and other healthcare systems will have a tough time making the change. 

Six Sigma and related change management techniques have proven extremely effective over the years. Whether this approach is used to enhance existing processes or to craft whole new processes, structures, services, and systems, the methodologies contained in Six Sigma and 5s add value for healthcare providers of all sizes.

Contact Incito Consulting Group

Our one of a kind approach to lean healthcare focuses on bringing about real change, with minimal disruption and quick results where it matters most: patient care. To learn more, contact us at 866-697-LEAN or read up on our Six Sigma consulting services. 

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