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Make sure to practice Performance Improvement in your hospital or clinic

Posted Dec 13 2010 11:30am

Health systems are continually innovating and have made great strides in the quality of care provided to patients. This may be attributed to advances in medical technology, medicines and medical procedures. However, compelling evidence demonstrates that the healthcare delivery system falls short of care that is safe, effective, efficient, patient centered, timely, and equitable, as called for by the Institute of Medicine.

Challenges faced by hospitals

Hospitals today are faced with multiple pressures:

· Increasing patient population

· Increasing hospital costs

· Shortage of qualified healthcare professional

· Lack of hospital facilities

Hence there is a need for significant and sustained changes in most health organizations for efficient management of the available resource by implementing process improvement strategies. Process improvement in health organizations fundamentally alters practices and culture to reduce rework, variation, and needless complexity in order to reduce hospital costs and improve patient care.

Examples of process improvement

Total quality management

The Joint commission for accreditation of healthcare defines TQM as a “business strategy of continuous improvement to meet customer.” TQM is a management approach to achieve long-term success through customer satisfaction. It focuses on continually improving a business and while reducing loss due to wasteful practices.

Six Sigma

Six Sigma is an organized method for process improvement that utilizes analytic tools along with management techniques to reduce performance variance and customer defined defect rates. Six Sigma uses a scientific approach called DMAIC to analyze a specific problem. DMAIC stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control, which is also known as the learning loop or PDCA.


Lean focuses on improving work processes, quality, and efficiency and reducing the time to accomplish work. To achieve this Lean is based on principles and techniques that continually add value to the organization or a product. These include the philosophy of adding value to customers, society, and associates; processes paying off over time; people and partners who are respected and developed; and problem-solving to drive organizational learning. Value can be added to a product by enhances process steps that are necessary, relevant, and valuable while eliminating those that fail to add value.

Unlike Six Sigma, it does not require a lot of mathematical analysis and is suitable for mature, slow growth or low transaction businesses

Constraint Methodology

A health care system involves many processes that can be viewed as a chain. The chain is composed of a series of links – and one of them may be the weakest. The weakest link is the constraint. This constraint may limit the system in its ability to perform. Therefore by identifying and effectively managing the constraint the system will be able to operate at its maximum potential.

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