Six Sigma and Healthcare Organizations – A Happy Marriage – Healthcare

Cost reductions are possible only from costs of inventory as against the cost of labor.To a certain extent, healthcare organizations have been able to have better management of inventories, better purchasing processes, and improved customer satisfaction. This is often referred to as the low-hanging fruit of cost containment. Nevertheless, the need for improvement always arises.The solution for this is the implementation of the Six Sigma tools and techniques. In the healthcare sector, it is very imperative that further improvements are made.There are some improvements that are a must over a period of time.Six Sigma for HealthcareIn the healthcare sector, what matters most is not a performance based on averages, but the variance or the defects that the customers feel in the services given to them.It affects the patients if there is any sort of defect in the services. Any department operating at lower levels of sigma means they have even larger defects.Achieving a higher level means patient satisfaction for services, physician satisfaction, reduced waiting periods for patients, and increased revenues.The DMAIC methodology can be useful in the improvement projects. Each step will bring in relevant data that will be able to help in bringing about improvement in the processes.The Define phase is the most important as the objective of the project will be defined. The goal is to achieve higher revenues by improving the capacity and empowering the employees to sort out recurring issues. The Measure phase will see the measurement of the key drivers in the organization, such as procedure times, time between patients, etc.In the Analyze phase, key relationships are identified. The most important phase of improvement is when the action plans and SOPs are identified. The changes and metrics put in place are then used in the Control phase to make sure that the changes brought in are sustained and achieving outputs according to expectations.An ExampleIf you consider an example of a cardiac cath lab, the customers here are the physicians. If a single cath suite is working in a single shift with all staff in the same shift, there may be something that the customer (i.e. the physician) expects. There may be a need to improve the time taken in the various stages of the cath procedure. If the study is undertaken, it will be discovered what steps can be done simultaneously.Using the Six Sigma methodology, it is possible to identify areas for improvement and to set benchmarks to achieve greater value. From the administration point of view, it means success of the Six Sigma plan is improvement in revenues.Six Sigma can successfully deal with very sensitive and important areas of the healthcare industry and help bring about changes. The more measurable and objective the nature of data, the greater customer acceptance will be.