Quite a few Black Belts from manufacturing environments have told me, “I don’t know anything about healthcare, but my industry is in a downturn so I’m looking for a Black Belt job in a hospital. I figure I can pick up the lingo once I’m there.”

I’ve also been asked to speak to industrial and process engineers who wanted to learn about healthcare so they could apply for jobs in that sector.

Now, I’m in full agreement that healthcare is a hotbed of opportunity for applying Lean and Six Sigma concepts! And I applaud people who are willing to step out of their comfort zones to try something in a new area. So here are some tips for process improvement experts seeking to transition from another industry into healthcare.

Things you should NEVER say when discussing Lean Six Sigma with healthcare providers:

  1. “Even though Lean and Six Sigma were developed in manufacturing environments, it’s directly applicable to treating patients – after all, it’s just like moving widgets down the assembly line!” (Trust me – this will be perceived as an insult.)
  2. “Everyone will need to do standard work – there’s no room for creativity in healthcare processes!” (Healthcare workers pride themselves on their ability to solve problems in a creative way – lead them gently into the concept of standard work for individual tasks, first.)
  3. “We’ll start by giving everyone three days of training in statistical analysis – let’s begin with the nursing staff.” (The most polite thing the nurses will do is roll their eyes – anything that takes them away from providing patient care will be suspect.)
  4. “Patient registration is an area that’s non-value-added.” (Don’t tell the finance department, and the caregivers who depend on registration information such as emergency contact numbers, that putting accurate information into the computer system isn’t a “vital x” for their functions!)
  5. “Doctors are not customers – they’re only providers.” (Whoa! Physicians need to be treated as co-customers with patients – sincedoctorsorder tests and treatments, andinterpret them on behalf of their patients – and decide which hospital to admit their patients to!)

So – there’s your short course for Lean Six Sigma in Healthcare! Can you think of anything else that should NEVER be said, in healthcare or other industries???

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