Six Sigma Applications In Healthcare

To lead a helping hand in improving quality care and reducing waste, several healthcare practices and hospitals now make use of Six Sigma tools. They do so to achieve the highest level of efficiency in patient care. When Six Sigma is used in healthcare, it has the power to eliminate any and every variations and defects in processes. It also has the ability to streamline all procedures by making them efficient and less costly. This paves the way for improved care of the patients.

In any hospital or healthcare practice, a defect is something that always leads to the dissatisfaction of patients. Such defects may include:

  • A long waiting time to consult a doctor
  • Incorrect diagnosis of an ailment
  • Incorrect treatment of the same

All these defects are frustrating as well as quite serious, hence must be removed as soon as possible to make life easier for the patients.

How Six Sigma makes healthcare better

The possibility of variance is much higher in the patient care industry than in any other process, because it is a hands-on process. The variables are quite small in size, hence, cannot be quantified properly. But with the data driven approach of Six Sigma, the improvements can actually be measured by analytics and business experts. The entire process takes a total of 5 steps to improve the quality of patient care with Six Sigma. 

They are as follows:

Define – The process needs to properly define the identity of the patients and their exact requirements. The capabilities of the process which an analyst is measuring also need to be defined. Last but not the least, the objectives of the process also need a proper and clear definition.

Measure – The improvements that healthcares practice goes through need to be measurable. The data, based on which, the measurements will be made need to be clear and accurate. The metrics that are used to measure and define the performance of a hospital are service cost, service level, clinical excellence, patient satisfaction, etc.

Analyze – Proper and accurate data needs to be collected and analyzed with the best possible Six Sigma tools for better efficiency.

Improve – Several modifications and changes need to be implemented to bring about improvements in the entire patient care approach using Six Sigma.

Control – All performances need to be and must be monitored to maintain a steady level of improvement and growth in every aspect of patient care.

Lean Six Sigma performs the following functions to improve the healthcare business and the patient care approach:

  • It reduces the errors caused by technicians, nurses and doctors
  • It improves the turnaround time of diagnostic labs and departments
  • It decreases the number of steps used in the supply chain for quick service
  • It reduces the waiting time of doctors’ appointments
  • It makes insurance claim reimbursements much faster
  • It generally improves patient satisfaction levels

With the use of Six Sigma, it becomes a whole lot easier for patients to access information on Healthcare providers in a much easier way. The higher the quality of patient care, the more will a healthcare provider be chosen. Six Sigma plays an important role in that. Patient reviews make or break the fortunes of any hospital or healthcare organization. It is an essential factor for other patients to go for a particular hospital as well. So these organizations need to take care as to how they are using the Six Sigma protocols for the betterment of patient satisfaction levels. So if you are a hospital manager or owner, you need to brush up on your Six Sigma skills to do the needful and improve your game.

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Suha Emma