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DMAIC project

DMAIC Case Study: Accuracy of System-generated Service Routes

A leading environmental services company provides collection, processing, recycling and disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous materials for industrial and automotive customers. The company has branches all over the United States. The service representatives in these branches carry out services for geographically dispersed customers in their respective territories. This case study describes how DMAIC (Define, Measure,…

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DMAIC Case Study: Improving System Availability

A leading environmental services company applied the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) methodology to improve the availability of an internal software system. The goal was to reduce system downtime (the time that the software application is not available for users) and reduce defect resolution time (the time it takes to fix a software defect…

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Improving the Productivity of a Service Team

The manufacturing and transactional worlds have long used productivity as a measure of efficiency. Traditionally, a productivity metric has been used for assessing return on investment on machinery to measure the contributions of team members. In the growing service economy where human resources are the biggest driver of costs in the organization, management teams want…

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Improving Outbound Calling Conversion Rates

Internet betting exchange Betfair invests heavily in different marketing activities, and one of the most effective marketing channels is outbound calling. The outbound marketing team employs a number of different campaigns. Its main focus, however, is to reach out to customers who have registered online, but not yet placed money in their betting account. The…

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Improving Process Turnaround Time in an Outpatient Clinic

Historically, medical residency teaching clinics provide the heart of medical services to an under-insured population through various government-subsidized health insurance programs. These programs provide medical coverage for eligible individuals with incomes of less than 35 percent of the federal poverty level. It is well-established that people living in poverty are at a higher risk for…

Improving Lab Performance with Six Sigma

Laboratories can be a taxing environment in which to implement Lean and Six Sigma. Labs are not the same as manufacturing – where Lean and Six Sigma got their start – because they typically have more variability in workload, less operational focus, less process reliability and longer task cycle times. However, through creative adaptation of…

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Reducing Misdirected Calls in Automated Payment Systems

While working on a maintenance project for a large U.S. telecommunications firm, information technology company Infosys Technologies Ltd. discovered that an unacceptably high percentage of calls in the clients’ automated payment system were being routed to the call center agents. The team conducted a DMAIC project, outlined here, to reduce the number of misdirected calls….

The Final Tollgate: Age Verification Cycle Time

For online betting organization Betfair, based in the United Kingdom, scrupulous identification of customers is vital. Within 72 hours of creating a Betfair account, the customer’s age must be verified to be 18 years or older. Betfair’s verification process is a necessary part of protecting customers and the business, and for complying with relevant U.K….

UVA Reduces CPT Coding Errors With Six Sigma

Like a detective, Pam Thomson probed the mysteries of CPT coding errors in the pulmonary medicine department at University of Virginia (UVA) Medical Center, looking for hard evidence of what went wrong and why. Were coding errors correlated with the time of day, day of the week, or workload? Was something amiss in the physician/coder…

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Six Sigma Software Development Case Study

This article illustrates the Six Sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) process using an organization that develops software packages as an example. The Six Sigma DMAIC approach to process improvement provides a powerful mechanism for improving the software process. Typical benefits will exceed costs within 6 to 12 months from initiation of a Six…

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Six Sigma Software Development Case Study – Part 2

This article illustrates the Six Sigma DMAIC process using an organization that develops software packages as an example. The Six Sigma DMAIC approach to process improvement provides a powerful mechanism for improving the software process. Typical benefits will exceed costs within 6 to 12 months from initiation of a Six Sigma program for software development,…

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…

Medical Transcription Six Sigma Case Study

Today’s industrial black belt typically trains for six months. Seventy-five percent of this training time is spent learning theory, and the balance is spent in practice. Often when the black belt returns to the real world to tackle inefficiencies, he finds that there are no takers for his logic and passion – his Six Sigma entreaties fall on…

Coronary Artery Bypass Grafts: Six Sigma Breakthrough

Six Sigma, 6s, is nothing more, and nothing less, than the use of science to solve problems. Scientific evidence that a breakthrough medical solution is genuine is statistical evidence. Though altruism and evidence influence medical treatments, economic pressure drives improvement. Multi-million dollar savings created by “beating heart” or “off-pump” coronary artery bypass outcomes are a…

Software Vendor Partnership Cost Reduction with Six Sigma

Business Issue A multibillion-dollar software manufacturer needed to drive down the total $191 million annual cost of supplying its workers with continuously updated workstations. Both the software manufacturer and its primary vendor/supplier were in the midst of an aggressive cost cutting initiative that would lead to a new compensation model. The initial, first year targeted…

HMO Formulary Standardization Six Sigma Breakthrough

Business Issue All medications are not created equally. Reopro (generic name: abciximab), Integrilin (generic name: eptifibatide) and Aggrastat (generic name: tirofiban) are all platelet-inhibiting drugs used in cardiac care. Each is priced differently. They act on patients in slightly different but clinically significant ways. The key critical to quality issue in healthcare is patient safety….

Using Six Sigma to Improve Clinical Quality and Outcomes

Appropriately implemented, Six Sigma clearly produces benefits in terms of better operational efficiency, cost effectiveness and higher process quality. Perhaps less obvious – and until recently less documented – is the impact it can make in clinical areas such as infection control and medication delivery. Clinicians are often receptive to Six Sigma given its familiar scientific and…

Read-Rite Low FPY Manufacturing Case Study

Read-Rite Philippines is the manufacturing site for the Tape Head Business Unit, and the core competency is assembly and test. Read-Rite Philippines manufactures magnetoresistive tape heads to the entry level through mid-range tape drive markets, with products such as Travan, DLT (Digital Linear Tape), SLR (Scalable Linear Recording) and SDLT (Super DLT). The Elite Sigma…

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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DMAIC Project Selection Using a Systematic Approach

The growth of the Six Sigma DMAIC continuous improvement process in the United States’ more service-oriented economy is not proceeding as fast as it did earlier in the country’s manufacturing industries. DMAIC is a well-proven process, but requires a systematic approach to project selection in transactional environments. When companies are squeezed on cost and drive…

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Improving Staff Scheduling at Providence Health System

As with most hospitals, labor is the largest budget expense at the Providence Alaska Medical Center (PAMC) in Anchorage. But benchmarking indicated that staff utilization at PAMC, a part of the Providence Health System, was above the 75th percentile of the national average. To remedy this, in October 2003, a multidisciplinary team (nursing, leadership, finance…

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…

15 Criteria for Selecting a Viable DMAIC Project

As anyone involved in Six Sigma knows, selecting the right project is a critical component of project success. If practitioners do not put enough effort into selecting the right opportunity for improvement, a project can end in disaster, or create unnecessary work and complexity for the project team. Selecting projects with just a few obvious…

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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…

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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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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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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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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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…

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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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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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…

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…

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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Attention Six Sigma, You’’re Wanted in Surgery

The demand for surgical services is growing rapidly, especially with ambulatory and cosmetic procedures. During the last decade, the volume of ambulatory surgery in U.S. hospitals increased by 2.9 million procedures, according to data from the American Hospital Association. As one of the busiest areas in a hospital, perioperative services often contribute 40 percent or…

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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