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Using Six Sigma, Lean, and Simulation to Improve the Phlebotomy Process

Summary: [This abstract is based on the authors' abstract.] Six Sigma, lean, and simulation modeling are all popular methodologies, but they have rarely been used together in healthcare process improvement. This study explores how the three can be integrated together, using a process improvement effort in a large hospital to demonstrate the methodology. The system under study is the phlebotomy process in the emergency department of the St. Catharines Site of the Niagara Health System. The process starts when an order for a blood test is placed, and ends when the specimen arrives at the lab. Research outputs occur at three levels of detail. A structured framework integrating the three research methodologies is developed, which may benefit a variety of future hospital process improvement efforts, and could inform quality improvement efforts in other industries (this is the primary generalizable output from this study). In addition, insights are gained into the phlebotomy process—aspects that may benefit phlebotomy improvement efforts in other hospitals. Also, suggestions are made to reduce the flow time (by an average of seven minutes) of the process at the St. Catharines Site.

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  • Topics: Six Sigma, Lean, Process Management
  • Keywords: Health care, Emergency medical service (EMS), Process improvement, Simulations, Six Sigma,
  • Author: Huang, Yunqu; Klassen, Kenneth J.
  • Journal: Quality Management Journal