Six Sigma and Health Care

Lean Six Sigma signifies a fundamental break in tradition within Western management ideology. It also enables the health care industry several basic and standardized solutions for many of their organizational and procedural issues.

Traditionally, western ideology consisted of a few basic and simplified assumptions: First, the assumption was made that there needed to be a separation between thinking and doing in order to effectively and efficiently perform certain procedures. Defects were inevitable and almost impossible to avoid. Organizations need to be designed in a hierarchical manner with chains of commands and various other segments. Lastly, keeping inventory was necessary although time consuming but is important in buffering fluctuations in production and vital in producing products and services to the ever in-demand market.

Lean Six Sigma enables the health care industry several basic and standardized solutions for many of their organizational and procedural issues. For instance, it enhances visual management procedures and reduces the complexity and time of processes. This version of Six Sigma is highly implemented due to its strength in enabling persons to incorporate certain procedures with its main focus on the patient.

In 2003, this methodology was applied to the health care industry led and previously tested by the Standford Hospital and Clinics. It was also implemented in several Red Cross Hospitals. Some hospitals may have been currently using another type of quality assurance system and then implemented this process in its place. These hospitals recorded that before using Six Sigma, several operations that had been standardized by another quality assurance system lacked framework within the organization. In addition, general tracking, coordination, support and project management were not being focused on. Incidentally, project leaders recorded several problems which were later successfully solved by the program.

Six Sigma implementation is a quick process taking up at most two to three sessions widely spaced, frequent practical trials within the hospital settings and random exams. By using it, a great number of factors and issues were unearthed including inconsistencies in tracking temporary employees, managing operating theatre start times, and maintaining hospital equipment, machines, and similar devices just to name a few. These were just some issues of concern brought up. With the help of 6 Sigma they were able to find the root of each problem and present several methods of repairing them or implementing new procedures in order to quickly complete them. Lean Six Sigma can be used in various ways within the health care industry  and has continued to enable health care professionals to offer sound and efficient care to the human populace.


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