Health care delivery systems are often mired in waste—long emergency room waits, redundant paperwork, duplicative diagnostic tests, unlabeled specimens and hard-to-find supplies, among countless others.
At the Center for Innovation, we have learned to apply Lean Sigma to reduce such waste while improving quality and clinical care. Used for decades to streamline processes and reduce defects in manufacturing, this process improvement methodology also has broad application to the health care setting. Adapting these tools, we have facilitated hundreds of quality improvement projects and, most importantly, trained more than 150 of our own employees to conduct their own Lean Sigma initiatives.
Among our many successes:
- Blood wastage—Reduced by more than 50 percent the rate at which units of packed red blood cells had to be discarded before they could be delivered to patients. In first four years, this effort saved the hospital $800,000.
- Patient flow—Increased on-time case starts in an otolaryngology clinic by 44 percent.
- Triage efficiency—Cut triage wait times in a labor and delivery clinic by 25 percent, despite a near-doubling in the patient census.
- Medication processing—Shortened chemotherapy preparation times by 40 percent while eliminating sources of potential errors.
Now more than ever, the pressure is on to find ways to provide high-quality care while improving efficiency and reducing cost. Consider applying the Lean Sigma framework to your organization’s performance improvement efforts.