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How Lean Six Sigma Principles Improve Hospital Performance

Summary: [This abstract is based on the authors' abstract.] The healthcare industry continues to emphasize quality and productivity improvements. This study focuses on the implementation of Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma (LSS) principles in hospitals. Through a qualitative analysis of 35 published case-based papers (33 of specific case studies plus two studies with more than one reported case), the authors found that implementing Six Sigma and LSS concepts can significantly contribute to improving process performance, including waiting time reduction and patient flow with the subsequent impact of increasing patient satisfaction. At the same time, these process improvement techniques also reduce operating costs and inventories, which translate into significant savings for hospitals, thereby creating a win-win situation. This study also shows that taking a multidisciplinary team approach, coupled with Six Sigma training, is critical to successfully implementing Six Sigma and LSS. The limitations to implementation appear to be primarily related to the organization (political hierarchy) and infrastructure of the hospitals. The authors' analysis of these cases clearly demonstrates that Six Sigma and LSS can provide effective solutions to improving the quality and processes in a healthcare service environment while simultaneously creating a cultural change within the organization by involving everyone associated with the process being evaluated.

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  • Topics: Lean, Six Sigma
  • Keywords: Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma, Health care industry, Case study, Analysis, Improvement
  • Author: Honda, Ana Carolina; Bernardo, Vitor Zanetti; Gerolamo, Mateus Cecilio; Davis, Mark M.
  • Journal: Quality Management Journal