How Is Six Sigma Applied in a Medical Lab?

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    How can six sigma be applied in the medical laboratory to improve staff efficiency in terms of:
    -turn around time of lab test reporting?
    -purchasing new instrumentation ?


    Chuck DeBusk

    With respect to Turn Around Time, you can use Six Sigma to analyze the basic components fo TAT.  Typically these will be Order to Drawn, Drawn to Received in Lab, Received in Lab to Result, Result to Report in Chart.  These may vary depending on what you are looking for.  We typically use a Regression or ANOVA to help understand which component is driving variability and then use Lean or other techniques to improve the process.  At one hospital there was a large delay between a test ordered by the Physician and when the order was entered into the computer system.  Since Lab couldn’t start their process until the order was entered, this contibuted to the perception of the delay on the part of the Physiciance.  In another situation, we are using lean to look at the work flow within the lab.

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