How Six Sigma Can Enhance Quality In Healthcare


Lean Six Sigma started as a game-changing approach for manufacturing and production lines. Gradually, it found inroads into the software development industry. Over the years, the lean approach has become a part of a broader range of industries. It improves efficiency,  eliminates waste, and reduces defects, making it ideal for all businesses. Six Sigma methodologies are apt for the healthcare segment where defects can make a difference between life and death. Additionally, the approach can go a long way in increasing revenues and customer satisfaction. Let us explain how it can enhance the overall quality of healthcare. 

Define problems and goals

Like any business, healthcare providers encounter problems that keep them from giving their best. They also have goals such as ensuring optimal outcomes and reducing wait times for the patients. Success hinges on defining these problems and goals early so that you can create a roadmap to reach them. Lean six sigma covers all fronts as it enables providers to develop a process map with detailed steps like reviewing insurance information, updating records, collecting co-pays, and more. 

Measure performance

The healthcare industry needs to go the extra mile with performance because lives are at stake. It is crucial to measure and track performance and identify bottlenecks. Going lean helps with both. It provides a way to measure the performance of the current check-in process and gather data for all the steps. Providers can pinpoint the problem areas to find where the process is slowing down the delivery of services to patients. 

Analyze the root cause of problems

Finding bottlenecks in healthcare processes is only half the work done. Organizations need to go in-depth and analyze the root cause of problems. Having resources with lean six sigma certification is an advantage because they are trained to analyze data and recommend elements that should be streamlined or eliminated. They can also reach the root cause of problems and suggest measures to address them for good. 

Improve check-ins 

Improving check-ins and patient experience can take providers a step closer to delivering quality services to customers. Lean six sigma helps with developing and testing solutions that bolster check-ins. For example, providers can find ways to improve coordination between doctors and nurses. Likewise, they can eliminate the delays in admissions by creating a process for gathering insurance information before the patient arrives.

Control for better effectiveness

The lean approach in healthcare also enables control for better effectiveness of the new process. Organizations can ensure that the new check-in process stays on track by monitoring it frequently and documenting each improvement. It opens the opportunity for continuous improvement, taking the business a step closer to quality goals. Also, proper control keeps quality in place in the future. 

Using Six Sigma to enhance healthcare quality goes a long way. It can shorten patient wait times in hospitals and private practices. It also curbs medication errors while prescribing and administering drugs and refilling prescriptions in pharmacies. Labs can rely on it to increase turnaround time. All kinds of providers in the industry can get closer to their goals with the lean-approach.