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The Four Key Approaches of Healthcare Lean-Six Sigma

Posted Jul 02 2009 6:31pm

As one begins to understand the theory of constraints and system thinking, an epiphany enlightens. One has to look to improve the system and all interdependent process as whole, by improving systematically a process here and a process there. Improving without a systematic view, just brings little results often shifting the root problem.

Lean-Six Sigma for Healthcare has four interwoven approaches :


  1. A strategic deployment approach - Senior Executive's goals are tied to the strategic plan by category of quality, expense reduction, patient safety, physician satisfication, patient satisfaction. This categorization is extended to six sigma project selection. Additionally a system map illustrating the relationships between all major entities and core processes is developed The C-suite champions the Lean Six Sigma deployment across the hospital, medical center, or health system

  2. An organizational cultural change approach - The organization's culture is focused upon improving the status quo.This step kicks it up a notch from performance benchmarking against others of similar facilities and departments. This characteristic is a transformation of the organizational culture from the inert attitude of this is the way things have always been done around here to in this organization we strive for perfection and look to continuously improve our processes.

  3. A statistical calculation approach This approach relates to the categorization of costs as quality and the fundamental usage of statistics to provide proof of problem and control of improvement efforts. Costs can be categorized as a process cost, costs of quality (COQ), or costs of poor quality (COPQ). Imagine the beauty of understanding for IT staff's utilization based upon these categorizations? I think the results would be enlightening for departments viewed as an IT expense center.

  4. A project management approach - This approach provides the organization with tools and frameworks to facilitate the implementation such as a DMAIC, PDCA, project management and 100 day rapid change response teams

A key outcome for Lean-Six Sigma for Healthcare is for organization to become proactive and purposeful rather than reactive and un-prioritized.

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