iSixSigma

Healthcare

Applying Six Sigma to Improve Diagnostic Imaging

Since the discovery of X-rays in 1895, the field of diagnostic imaging has undergone dramatic changes. Within a year after its introduction, the application of X-rays to diagnosis and therapy had already become an established part of medicine. The decades to follow produced a steadily increasing stream of innovation – including the advent of nuclear…

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Measuring Six Sigma Results in the Healthcare Industry

With half a dozen years of experience, this may be a good time for the healthcare industry to revisit the question which titled a frequently cited article published in 1998, “Is Health Care Ready for Six Sigma?” The question may best be answered by examining how Six Sigma and related improvement methods have been deployed…

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…

Examples of Strategies for Healthcare and Other Services

Six Sigma has been used extensively in improving manufacturing organizations, but only relatively recently has it been used to improve processes outside the manufacturing arena. In our book Six Sigma Beyond the Factory Floor, my co-author, Dr. Ronald D. Snee, and I examine process improvement in the rest of the economy, such as financial services,…

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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Six Sigma Catapults Hospitals to Next Level of Quality

The quality and variability of care delivered by hospitals is highly profiled in the media today. Pick up a newspaper, turn on the television or open a healthcare trade journal and chances are there will be an article detailing the real or possible occurrence of medical errors, allegations of a hospital’s failure to comply with…

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A Successful Pain Management Initiative at LDS Hospital

Three years ago many best practices already were in place at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. The hospital was providing bedside registration, advanced triage protocols, point of care testing and real time radiology. A robust and comprehensive continuous quality improvement program had been established and as a result, higher patient satisfaction scores,…

Eight Keys to a Successful Implementation of PACS

The Canadian government unveiled a plan in 2001 to create an interoperable electronic health record (EHR) for half of the country’s population by 2009. The plan is aimed at increasing healthcare efficiency, hereby helping to address Canada’s critical human resource shortages and potentially saving billions of dollars annually. As part of this effort, many hospitals…

Pharmaceuticals: Compliance Not a True Quality Practice

Here is a provocation: Quality practices in the pharmaceuticals industry today are what they were in other industries 15 to 20 years ago. It is time to catch up. The regulators recognize it. Pharmaceutical business leaders recognize it. Six Sigma is an opportunity for operations and quality professionals to modernize quality practices. Those who get…

Solving the Dilemma Created by the No-Show Patient

When scheduled patients fail to show up for their exam, they cause an interruption in the scheduling process, which creates inefficiency in the delivery system. If schedulers are able to fill the open time slot with another patient, the problem is limited to the inefficiencies created by extra work. If the open time slot cannot…

Strategies for Improving Patient Safety in the Hospital

The fact that patients are not entirely safe in a hospital is not breaking news. Errors in healthcare delivery were occurring long before the 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine exposed significant gaps in the healthcare system in the United States. The institute’s report, To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System, found…

Reducing Delays in the Cardiac Cath Lab with Six Sigma: An iSixSigma Case Study

Cardiac catherization labs represent a significant capital investment for many hospitals. Realizing a return on this investment is increasingly challenging, given the introduction of advanced technologies and limitations in reimbursement. To meet the challenges and maintain fiscal health, hospitals are pursuing strategies such as Six Sigma, Lean and change management techniques to improve throughput, maximize…

Ideas for Achieving Higher Reliability in Healthcare

As startling as the 1999 report from the Institute of Medicine was – estimating that medical errors may cause 98,000 deaths annually – a new national study indicates the problem may actually be much worse. According to the report released in July by HealthGrades, a Denver-based healthcare ranking group, the number of hospital patients who…

Integrating Six Sigma with Lean and Work-out in Healthcare

Since its introduction nearly two decades ago, Six Sigma has been embraced by many organizations and industries involved in manufacturing and transactional services as a cost-effective way to improve quality and productivity. As a method to eliminate variation and defects, Six Sigma makes use of a structured approach and statistical tools to find the root…

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FMEA: Preventing a Failure Before Any Harm Is Done

FMEA (failure mode and effects analysis) is a proactive tool, technique and quality method that enables the identification and prevention of process or product errors before they occur. Within healthcare, the goal is to avoid adverse events that could potentially cause harm to patients, families, employees or others in the patient care setting. As a…

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Driving Change at Alaska Health System – A Case Study

Alaska’s Providence Health System has always had a strong pioneering spirit, stretching back to 1902 when the Sisters of Providence first brought healthcare to gold rush territory in Nome. Expanding and evolving throughout the years to meet community needs, Providence Health System now employs more than 3,000 people, includes seven facilities and delivers a full…

Profile in Six Sigma Leadership: James G. Springfield

James G. Springfield, president and CEO of Valley Baptist Health System in Harlingen, Texas (USA), shares his thoughts on the concerns of healthcare administrators today and his vision of healthcare’s future. His views offer a profile in Six Sigma leadership. James G. Springfield President and CEO Valley Baptist Health System Harlingen, Texas Those who know…

Increasing Cath Lab Capacity Through Six Sigma

Healthcare organizations currently implementing Six Sigma are finding no shortage of opportunities for applying this approach – and many are reaping substantial benefits in terms of cost, quality and productivity. One area increasingly targeted in recent years has been the cardiac catheterization lab, which is generally a high-volume, challenging and complex environment within any healthcare facility….

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Is Healthcare the Next Big Thing?

I’ve had a lot pf people asking me about healthcare lately. As in, “Now that big corporations and the automotive companiesare reeling, with the stimulus coming and promises of healthcare reform, isn’t it a great time to move out of the manufacturing sector andinto process improvement in healthcare?” Well, it’s true that thereare vast opportunities…

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Defects in Healthcare

Last Friday I taught a Lean Leadership class for my healthcare organization. The participants included all levels of support staff, physicians, nurses, anddepartment leaders. They grasped the concepts easily, and we had a lot of fun with the simulation exercise. In the first round, of course, no products made it to the customer. In the…

Six Sigma Meets IT at McKesson

Last Week, Ben Worthen, of The Wall Street Journal, interviewed Randall Spratt, chief information officer at McKesson Corp. McKesson was one of the pioneer healthcare companies to use Six Sigma, starting in 1999 and still going strong today. In the interview Spratt talked about how the use of Six Sigma and technology are making operations…

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Lean Six Sigma for Healthcare: What Not to Say

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…

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Quest Diagnostics CFO Speaks Lean Six Sigma

Bob Hagemann, CFO and VP of Quest Diagnostics, recently spoke about the company at the Wachovia Healthcare Conference. During the presentation he touched on Six Sigma. Even after seven years pursuing Six Sigma, Quest Diagnostics is still expanding their deployment. Below are a few excerpts from the presentation: Our program to reduce costs by $500…

Will Medicare Force Hospitals to Go Six Sigma?

I was driving to pick up my daughter from school yesterday when a story on National Public Radio (NPR) caught my attention. I only heard the end of the segment on the radio, but from what I could tell Medicare was forcing hospitals to change the way they do business by not paying for certain…

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Six Sigma is Out for Blood!

Blood Systems Laboratories, a division of Blood Systems, is the second largest blood testing company in the United States (second only to the Red Cross). They launched a Six Sigma program early in 2004. The Blood Systems 2005 Annual Report highlights Blood Systems Laboratories’ Six Sigma achievements: “Completed 18 Six Sigma/Rapid Action Planning (RAP) projects…

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Six Sigma at Express Scripts

At the Bank of America, Health Care Conference 2006 in May, Express Scripts gave a presentation that included a few slides about their Lean Six Sigma program. Their value proposition: “To reduce pharmacy costs, without compromising health outcomes, while maximizing patient satisfaction.” Lean and Six Sigma together are part of how they are giving “value”…

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Help for Physicians

After writing my recent blog, “Physician Heal Thyself,” I attended a review session for the ASQ certification exam. The subject of physicians came up when we were discussing identification of customers in healthcare. One of the attendees reminded the group that physicians tend to be diagnosticians, looking for a way to fit the patient’s symptoms…

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Physician, Heal Thyself!

What makes some physicians so difficult to convince of the need for change? I’m talking aboutphysicians who are extremely unhappy with the current state. They complain to anyone who will listen. They threaten to take their patient volume elsewhere. They tell horror stories about orders they wrote that weren’t filled, wrong items in the orthopedic…

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How Do We Change in Healthcare?

I have spent the last couple of months banging my head against a wall trying to figure out why one group of employees at one of my implementations just can’t align with a Lean way of life. Each time we 5S an area, it gets changed. Each time we try to implement standard work, it…

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Six Sigma at Cardinal Health

Cardinal Health has been busy with Lean Six Sigma. Their second quarter earnings release highlighted their progress to date: “Initiating more than 100 operational excellence projects, bringing the total number of ongoing projects to 200. The company is on-track to train nearly 300 “black belts” during 2006 to manage company-wide lean six-sigma initiatives within manufacturing,…

Six Sigma and Healthcare – An Oxymoron?

How many healthcare processes have you measured that are 2.0 Zst or higher at the start of the project? I’ve never had one of these – most of mine have started at below 1.0 or in the negative Sigma range. In every one of my projects, I’ve had to use lean tools to get where…

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Six Sigma at New York-Presbyterian Hospital

New York-Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) began their Six Sigma initiative in 2003. Today they are ranked 7th in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals Honor Roll. Before implementing Six Sigma they were ranked 14th. Ed Craven, Director of Innovation Strategy at NYP said Six Sigma deserves some of the credit for jump in the ranks….

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Six Sigma at Baxter Healthcare

The article Six Sigma, the Baxter Way at PharmaManufacturing.com features an interview with Allen Harmon, the director of operations at Baxter’s Biologics facility in Hayward, California. The question/answer session reveals details on how this Baxter facility is using Six Sigma and Lean in their operational excellence program. Noted in the interview, Harmon states that Baxter…

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Six Sigma at Quest Diagnostics

Quest Diagnostics are early pioneers of Six Sigma in the healthcare industry, implementing the methodology in May 2000. Since then they have supplemented the program with a healthy dose of Lean and DFSS. Their progress to date is well documented on their website and in annual reports: “Since May 2000, with the launch of the…

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McKesson Corporation

McKesson is the largest pharmaceuticals distributor in the United States. While they do not manufacture drugs or supply healthcare services, they are the leading provider of supply, information, and care management products to the entire healthcare industry. In the words of McKesson’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, John Hammergren, “McKesson is helping transform healthcare into…

Six Sigma in the Healthcare Industry

The Healthcare Sector includes the following Fortune 1000 industries: Medical Products & Equipment, Pharmacy and Other Services, Healthcare-Medical Facilities, and Wholesalers-Healthcare. The Healthcare-Insurance industry is included in the Insurance Industry List. Fortune 1000 Healthcare Companies practicing Six Sigma: Bausch & Lomb Baxter International Becton Dickinson Boston Scientific Cardinal Health McKesson Medtronic Quest Diagnostics St. Jude…

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