iSixSigma

Case Studies

Leveraging Six Sigma to Improve Hospital Bed Availability

Located in Lafayette, Louisiana, Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center recently began working with GE Medical Systems to implement Six Sigma as a method for achieving quality and process improvement. Since patient throughput and bed availability are among the organization’s top concerns, the team began by focusing on this issue. Following a process of…

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Surmounting Staff Scheduling at Valley Baptist Health System

Located in Harlingen, Texas, Valley Baptist Health System is a full-service, not-for-profit community health network ably serving the population of south Texas and beyond. The system is comprised of multiple organizations including Valley Baptist Medical Center, a 611-bed acute care hospital providing the number one rated orthopedics service in Texas, a state of the art…

The Importance of Statistical Thinking

Six Sigma is the buzzword of today. Companies big and small talk about it and numerous success stories further advertise its relevance in today’s challenging business environment. Debates on its emergence as a strategic initiative have created critics who consider it old wine in a new bottle and loyal followers willing to swear by it….

Six Sigma Case Study: Converting Paper to Electronic Documents

This work described below was carried out in a large company based in the U.S. and India. The project dealt with converting printed paper from U.S. customers into electronic copies. The material was quite heterogeneous in nature – consisting of assorted magazines and legal papers. It is part of an ongoing operation that services several…

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Case Study: Using DOE to Reduce Wasted Supplies in CTU

The quality of environmental hygiene in hospitals is under increasing scrutiny from both healthcare providers and consumers because the prevalence of serious infections due to multidrug-resistant pathogens has reached alarming levels. The transfer of gram-positive bacteria, particularly methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), among patients is a growing concern. One critical factor for…

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Starting the First Surgical Case on Time to Cut Delays

In 2006, the board, administration and staff at Louisiana’s Thibodaux Regional Medical Center (TRMC) decided their operating room (OR) suites represented an opportunity for improvement. Rising demand, costs and competition were all signals that the hospital would need to either invest in expansion or operational efficiency. Taking the less glamorous and more difficult path of…

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Using Six Sigma to Reduce Pressure Ulcers at a Hospital

Since 2001, Thibodaux Regional Medical Center (TRMC) in Louisiana has applied Six Sigma and change management methods to a range of clinical and operational issues. One project that clearly aligned with the hospital’s strategic plan was an initiative to reduce nosocomial or hospital-acquired pressure ulcers, because this is one of the key performance metrics indicating…

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Hospital Improves Medication Reconciliation Process

Medication reconciliation – the process of comparing a patient’s medication orders with all of the medications he or she has been taking – can be difficult. Lack of patient knowledge regarding medication details, multiple care providers, multiple sources obtaining different medication lists for the same patient and new Joint Commission requirements all contribute to the difficulty. Hospitals…

Six Sigma’s Applicability to Business Forecasting

Six Sigma’s positive impact on manufacturing and product quality environments is well known and, without a doubt, has been proven by countless early and present practitioners. The method’s usefulness in improving transactional processes even in manufacturing businesses, however, is not always so well accepted. At Cabot Microelectronics Corporation, the business forecasting process was one that…

Cutting-Edge Methods Help Target Real Call Center Waste

Many processes and supporting functions operate in call centers…planning, staff scheduling, call routing, after-call processing and reporting. However, the single most important process in a call center – the one repeated thousands of times a day and the one most in need of improvement – is an agent handling an inbound or outbound call. Find Out More…

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Using Lean Six Sigma to Improve Call Center Operations

Employees knew that the service in their third-party call center had deteriorated in recent years. Their job was to handle queries from independent business owners about financial services offered by the call center’s client. As in many call centers, the job was considered highly stressful because of expected response times and resolution. Initially, no one…

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Case Study: Using Measurement to Drive Behavior Change

Inventory takes up a significant amount of cash flow at IBM and many other companies. Due to fast depreciation in technology products, machines that are inventoried are not worth as much as they age. To combat this loss in value, practitioners at an IBM warehouse conducted a Six Sigma project to reduce their hardware inventory….

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Rush to Enact Solutions Sabotages a DMAIC Project

In 2004, a small and relatively young technology company (7,500 employees and an annual revenue of $2 billion) implemented the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002, or what is usually referred to as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). In an effort to be fully compliant the company identified and initiated more than…

Six Sigma Trims Turnover Time for Orthopedic Surgeries

Orthopedic and neurological spine surgery represents a competitive and profitable business for many healthcare organizations. Expanding this particular service line and ensuring efficiency in the operating room (OR) are among the strategic initiatives at Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital in Houston, Texas, U.S.A., one of 16 hospitals in the Memorial Hermann system. Surgeons at the hospital…

Improving Patient Charge Capture at Yale-New Haven

It is a common problem. Every year, hospitals lose millions of dollars when items used in the course of a patient’s care somehow slip through the system without ever being charged or reimbursed. At Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, a Six Sigma project team decided to look at the opportunities related to patient charge capture….

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Addressing the Issues at Doctors Hospital of Augusta

Like most healthcare providers, Doctors Hospital in Augusta, Georgia, USA, has struggled with familiar issues related to quality, resource constraints and ensuring optimal, accessible services for the community. Implementing Six Sigma has allowed the hospital to begin winning the battles with these issues. In 2004, the hospital’s leadership team decided to launch a new initiative…

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Aligning Call Center Agent Goals with Customer Desires

In the 1990s, the teller counter was the primary customer-facing area in the financial service industry, and so improvement efforts were leveraged in this arena. With increased improvements in technology and online banking utilization, however, process improvement efforts have shifted to internal areas. Yet companies must realize that even though customers are becoming more self-reliant…

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Six Sigma Can Drive Environmental Management Programs

The current ISO 14001:2004 standard for environmental management systems has explicit requirements for defining and establishing objective targets and measures as part of an organization’s commitment to sound environmental management. Meeting these standards can be made easier when Six Sigma is applied in complement to an organization’s environmental management system. The presence of a robust…

DMAIC Helps Agency Craft Green Electronics Plan

The increased demand and limited supply of fossil fuels has signified the importance of energy efficiency and conservation across the world. Energy resourcefulness has come to the forefront in both federal and private organization’s policies and practices. Many organizational standards and procedures aim to minimize the use of energy, thereby protecting the environment. Various federal…

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Case Study Shows Six Sigma Role in Financial Services

An international bank with 50 branches in Germany and approximately 300 employees decided in 2003 to adopt Six Sigma in all its business units in Europe. It then set out to use Six Sigma to implement one of its priority business strategies – significantly grow its car loan business in the next two years. The bank’s…

LSS Streamlines OR at Thibodaux Regional Medical Center

Process Improvement Drives Greater Efficiency and Higher Satisfaction Delays are common within the perioperative environment. Lengthy turnover times between surgical cases can impact surgeon satisfaction and timely access to services. At Louisiana’s Thibodaux Regional Medical Center (TRMC), surgeons expressed frustration with the length and variability of operating room (OR) turnover time (T0T). Maximizing efficiency in…

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Improving a Health System’s Cash Flow Management

The healthcare industry is going through mergers and acquisitions and facing new economic struggles. As hospitals realize the need to consolidate resources regionally, a big challenge takes shape: handling the information necessary to manage cash flow efficiently. Cash flow management is vital for hospital systems to sustain their daily operations. Our team used DMAIC to…

Reducing Costs by Controlling Raw Material Consumption

All product manufacturers are being pushed to produce the best quality products without exceeding budget. Effective resource management can be instrumental in achieving this goal. A particular textile processing mill, which dyes and prints handloom fabric predominantly used in school uniforms, decided to follow the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) approach to reduce its…

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Quality Skills Can Make a Difference in the Community

As quality professionals, it is easy to become absorbed in day-to-day professional business roles: improving the quality of products or services, increasing productivity, enhancing profits, lowering costs, raising customer satisfaction and so on. Sometimes, however, it is important to pause and ask ourselves a fundamental question: How are we improving quality in our communities? For…

Sustaining Improvement by Building a Quality Mindset

A common problem encountered in Lean, Six Sigma and TQM implementation is performance deterioration after the completion and handover of a breakthrough improvement. This can happen despite installation of control mechanisms to monitor ongoing performance. In this case study, a financial services company with a national sales network had already begun addressing concerns about its…

Outpatient Imaging Reports TAT Cut from 64 to 9 Hours

Competition in the outpatient imaging center market is intense. New imaging centers are springing up everywhere. Faced with decreasing reimbursements, ever-changing technology and the expectation of spa-like atmospheres, how can an outpatient imaging center remain profitable? The answer lies with the customer. Having a pulse on the customer experience and continually eliciting and acting on…

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Slashing Product Development Time in Financial Services

In a data-rich environment like insurance, it is often easier to quantify opportunities associated with speed than it is in other industries. A global financial services company knew it took them 18 months to get new nationwide variable annuity products to the market. The company’s vast database and proven models allowed them to estimate that…

Optimizing OR Capacity at The Children’’s Hospital

Perioperative services is one of the most challenging and complex environments in healthcare. It is often prone to variability in terms of processes, patient volume and case type. Bottlenecks, delays and problems with patient flow frequently surface in this critical area, impeding the organization’s ability to manage the daily caseload and capacity allocation. To increase…

Six Sigma Has Successful Start in a Shanghai Hospital

The application of Six Sigma to healthcare has gained increasing visibility during the last several years, with a great deal of the attention focused on initiatives taking place within the United States. It’s important to note, however, that success has not been limited only to efforts of U.S. hospitals and medical centers. Last year in…

Reducing Delayed Starts in Specials Lab with Six Sigma

Special radiology procedures can be some of the most difficult to manage in healthcare. Their production relies on the chorus of a multidisciplinary team working within a limited time frame. Ancillary department performance can directly affect outcome performance for the unit. Defects such as missing orders, missing history and physicals or problems with patient flow…

Six Sigma Improves Workflow in N-Medicine Department

The nuclear medicine department located in the Ospedale Santa Croce e Carle in Cuneo, Italy, has always been recognized as a national and international reference site for its clinical compentencies and innovative facility design. When originally opened, the nuclear medicine department was structured to provide the best possible service to patients. This included a focus…

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Achieving and Sustaining Improvement in Cardiac Medication

More than 70 million Americans have some form of cardiovascular disease, including stroke, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure (CHF) and acute myocardial infarction (AMI). The numbers continue to rise as the population ages, and improving the timeliness and quality of cardiovascular care continues to be a critical area of focus for healthcare providers. Some…

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Listen to Customers and Change the Process Accordingly – An iSixSigma Case Study

For a business to successfully change its processes to meet customer needs and expectations, it must use measurable critical-to-satisfaction data. One company, a homebuilding business, used customer satisfaction surveys to measure performance for several years with customers receiving surveys periodically throughout their homebuilding experience. Then the company used this information to implement change. Data collected…

Using Six Sigma to Reduce Medical Transcription Errors

A Six Sigma project at a medical transcription company in India for U.S.-based customers first debunked the myth that output quality variability cannot be systematically improved because of the inherent variability of input quality and human skills. Then, encouraged by the results, the company launched a second phase of the quality movement to consolidate learning,…

Common Success Factors, Uncommon Success in Europe

Whether implementing Six Sigma in Munich or Manhattan, Paris or Prague, certain common factors are critical for success. Nonetheless, how one successfully applies these factors is culturally dependent. Universal Critical Success Factors Accepting the General Electric definition of Six Sigma as “completely satisfying customers’ needs profitably” means that Six Sigma requires a company-wide initiative to…

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The Organic Growth of Six Sigma at John Crane Inc.

Deployment is one of the most critical elements of a successful Six Sigma program. Top-down support, Champion training, wide publicity and Six Sigma awareness training for all employees are usual components. In addition, employees selected to be Black or Green Belts must be trained, and projects strategically selected. But deployment is not a destination. Rather,…

Removing the Bottlenecks, Improving Flow in Radiology

Moving patients efficiently through the system can become a challenge for hospitals and imaging centers, especially as demand increases. This was the case for the radiology department at Watson Clinic in Lakeland, Florida, USA. A growing backlog of appointments – particularly in computed tomography (CT) scans – had begun to impact timely access to services. While…

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Measure the Immeasurable: The World of Smell and Taste

In many industries, improvement projects quickly face an obstacle: The lack of easy to get and reliable data. This is especially true when the critical-to-quality elements (CTQs) of the project are “soft attributes” such as taste, smell or texture. Facing such a problem in the food and drink industries is obvious. While in a Kano…

Sustaining Breakthrough Improvements in Insurance FirmAn iSixSigma Case Study

A young, rapidly expanding insurance company in India, which was looking for breakthrough improvements in its customer service, decided its No. 1 critical-to-quality objective would be “reducing the turnaround time from an insurance proposal to policy.” Phase 1 of the project achieved dramatic success with turnarounds, reducing time in the central processing division by 80…

Reducing Door-to-inflation Time for the AMI Patient

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and more than 900,000 people annually are diagnosed with acute myocardial infarction (AMI). The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) have identified AMI as one of the early priority focus areas for hospital…

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Reducing Admitting Delays by Improving Bed Management

When confronted by concerns of some physicians about frequent lengthy delays that they experienced admitting patients, Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital in Houston, Texas, assembled a cross-functional Six Sigma team to identify and address any underlying issues that might be causing the delays. The business case for pursuing the project was clear. Improving bed management and…

Streamlining Diagnostic Testing at Northwestern Memorial

The diagnostic testing center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago is an outpatient laboratory that is kept perennially busy serving the needs of the community. Thousands of walk-in patients are seen each year, primarily for blood tests (phlebotomy) and electrocardiograms (EKGs). Although Northwestern receives acclaim for its patient care, some complaints had begun to surface…

Improving ED Wait Times at North Shore University Hospital

The Emergency Department (ED) increasingly is becoming the sole source of medical care for many individuals. It also is often called the “gateway” to the hospital since it is the first encounter many patients have with the hospital. Thus it is the place where positive or negative perceptions of the hospital initially may be formed….

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