Collecting Ideas for Improvement – ASPIRE

Building a culture of continuous improvement within an organization goes beyond the ability to execute process improvement projects. An organization that supports continuous improvement promotes a non-blaming culture, focuses on the improvement responsibility of all employees and uses the talent of the entire workforce. Such an organization empowers employees to speak up when they see…

Case Study: Improving Purchase Order Process

The accounts payable shared services center (SSC) of a large Ohio-based healthcare system completed a Six Sigma operational enhancement and reporting project. This case study reviews the course of the project which endeavored to establish standard invoice processing times and develop an ongoing system for monitoring how well those standards are met. Over the last…


Case Study: Reducing Turnaround Time of Lab Reports in the ICU

A 250-bed hospital had implemented total quality management (TQM) to improve customer delight in its diagnostic clinics. After that success, the management team of the hospital was ready to proceed with further process improvement. After completing a brainstorming and prioritization exercise, the team determined to next address the problem: delay in receiving test reports for patients…


Mind Mapping: A Simpler Way to Capture Information

Hospitals and health plans know that the high cost of care is squeezing the U.S. economy. That’s why so many of them are using Lean Six Sigma to control spending by refining internal processes – while still satisfying customers in a highly competitive market. A major health care consortium based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area…


Using Lean Six Sigma to Achieve NCQA Certification

Since its founding in 1990, National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has been driving improvement through the development of quality standards and measures in the healthcare field. The NCQA measures are more commonly recognized as Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS). How can organizations incorporate Lean Six Sigma in their NCQA accreditation efforts? Lean…

Jan De Witte Named President of GE's Healthcare IT Division

Jan De Witte, president and CEO of GE Healthcare’s Performance Solutions division, has taken on the additional title of president and CEO of GE’s $1.4 billion Healthcare IT division. He succeeds Vishal Wanchoo, who has moved into the role of senior vice president of growth initiatives for GE India.

Improving Process Turnaround Time in an Outpatient Clinic

Historically, medical residency teaching clinics provide the heart of medical services to an under-insured population through various government-subsidized health insurance programs. These programs provide medical coverage for eligible individuals with incomes of less than 35 percent of the federal poverty level. It is well-established that people living in poverty are at a higher risk for…

The Influence of Empowering Healthcare Workers

“What kind of care would I want for a loved one who is fighting cancer?” This is the question that Julia, an outpatient clinic nurse at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), asked herself as she observed the following process: Mrs. Smith, a patient, arrives early to the clinic to meet with her oncologist, Dr….


Lean Six Sigma Efforts Highlighted at Lab Quality Confab

Many of the nation’s most innovative clinical laboratories, pathology groups and in-vitro diagnostics manufacturers came together recently at the Fourth Annual Lab Quality Confab in San Antonio to share their successes in the use of Lean Six Sigma and similar process improvement techniques.

Study Shows Physician Involvement in Improvement Projects Helps Sustain Changes

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) National Research Network and the American College of Physicians released a study in the Journal of the American Board of Family Physicians (JABFM) in September showing how including both physicians and non-physicians on process improvement teams can help better facilitate change management, according to an article by David…

Varkey, Mickelsen, Dankbar Win Minn. Quality Awards

A Minnesota-based quality group recently presented three people with the 2010 Shurson Awards, honoring commitment to quality principles. The winners, chosen by the Rochester Area Quality Council (RAQC), are Gene Dankbar and Dr. Prathibha Varkey of the Mayo Clinic, and Darryl Mickelson of Hormel Foods Corp.

Study Finds Significant Wait Time Reduction Via DFSS at Hospital ERs

Emergency room waiting times could be cut by over one third and patients’ length of stay by almost two-thirds, thanks to a new approach to the triage process of sorting patients for further assessment and treatment, according to research published in the International Journal of Six Sigma and Competitive Advantage this month. The researchers have…

Is Lean the Secret to Curing Healthcare?

Dr. John Toussaint, former CEO and president of the ThedaCare healthcare system, shares his lessons learned in applying Lean in his recent book. ThedaCare Inc., a not-for-profit system of hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and other services in Northeast Wisconsin, has been practicing Lean for more than seven years. Through its use of Lean principles, the…

A Day in Photos at Virginia Mason Medical Center

For patients of Virginia Mason Medical Center, trips to the hospital can actually be pleasant – or at least free of discomfort and waste. The center is a private, not-for-profit organization offering integrated health services, including a 336-bed hospital in Seattle and a network of primary and specialty care clinics throughout the Puget Sound region….

Case Study: Improving Medical Bill Review Cycle Time

When the clock is ticking in time-bound, customer-sensitive operations, using Lean Six Sigma can be a smart move toward achieving operational excellence and customer satisfaction. In this case study, one large insurance company executed a Lean Six Sigma project to cut operational costs for property and casualty (P&C) insurance claims and improve customer satisfaction. The…


Bringing Home the Gold

Recognizing accomplishments is an important part of a Lean Six Sigma deployment, both for the honor that it brings to the practitioners and for the visibility it brings to the program. Covidien plc, a $10 billion global leader in healthcare products, has embraced that concept wholeheartedly in its annual Bring Home the Gold competition. The…

Improving Personal Health Using Data and Six Sigma

Four times a year, I donate blood at a local blood bank and receive readings on my cholesterol, blood pressure and pulse. Although donating blood does not improve a person’s health, the regular readings of the vital signs, along with analysis and actions stemming from this data, can be significant in the fight against heart…

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