Is Six Sigma a realistic goal in the healthcare industry?

Healthcare industry is one of the valuable and precious industry where everyone wants zero defects. Six Sigma is a programme which aims at improving the overall quality of the business by eliminating all the defects and helps them to achieve their desired result. Six Sigma allows healthcare industry to break through the status quo and achieve real process improvement. By employing six sigma principles, healthcare organizations have improved their service level, minimized costs, improved customer satisfaction, and elevated clinical excellence.

Female medicine doctor filling in patient medical history list

There are a plethora of reasons which can prove that why the healthcare industry needs six sigma. Let’s discuss it with the examples.

Six sigma minimizes patient wait time: The North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset had experienced high wait times in their emergency room. It has been found that a patient needs to wait for 187 minutes to see an emergency room doctor. Most of the people believe that the department was short-staffed. By employing Six Sigma techniques, the hospital was able to determine how patients were progressing through different points of the process. By evaluating the data, they have been found that the delays were caused by the physicians, the registrar on duty, and the batching charts. Six Sigma helps them to find out the root cause and that is not inadequate staff, but the prime reason was an inefficient process. Six Sigma helped them to solve the issue and the wait time was decreased by 37%.

Improves the process: In this healthcare industry, the factors which determine the quality and efficiency are basically the flow of information and interaction between the people. Six Sigma helps a healthcare organization in streamlining the flow of information. The core focus of Six Sigma is to improve the process rather than just concentrating on the task. In this way, an organization gets the scope of improvements. Six Sigma provides all the necessary tools and methodologies which will help a healthcare organization in analyzing and transforming human performance. So, by implementing six sigma, a healthcare organization can improve its performance on a long-term basis.

Reduces medication errors: Very often, a healthcare organization suffers from medication errors which will not only help them to lose their businesses but also tarnishes their brand image. Virtua Health was suffered from the medication management process. They need to manage nearly 70 million Americans with some form of cardiovascular disease. The hospital implemented Six Sigma programme and set the standard for patient chart review. Based on these new standards, they have identified that the errors are associated with the documentation processes. With the help of six sigma methodology, the hospital improved their coordination, enhanced the knowledge of the staff, and initiated a better documentation process.

Where Six Sigma can be applied in the healthcare industry

Below, we are mentioning some of the areas of healthcare where Six Sigma can be applied.

  • Purchasing and Supply chain management
  • Clinical Research
  • Billing, coding, and reimbursement
  • Laboratory Efficiency
  • Radiology cycle time
  • Scheduling
  • Patient Education
  • Transcription
  • Emergency department patient flow
  • Referral authorization

These are some ways where six sigma can be used and implemented in the healthcare industry. The healthcare experts should try to integrate some new methods into the six sigma process to improve effectiveness. So, it can be concluded that indubitably six sigma is a realistic goal in the healthcare industry.

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