Lean Six Sigma in Healthcare
With more than $147 billion in American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funding allocated to healthcare over the next five years, the uses of Lean Six Sigma in healthcare are growing exponentially. These stimulus dollars will be used for targeted efforts in areas, such as:
- Lowering healthcare costs due to inefficiency, inappropriate care, duplicative care and incomplete information
- Generating additional savings by reducing waste, decreasing medical errors and improving quality
- Improving patient outcomes, and detecting, preventing, and managing chronic disease
- Transforming the economy with science and technology
According to a recent USA Today article, “Each of the nation’s 5,700 hospitals must cut $2.6 million a year on average in costs in the next 10 years to meet the demands of President Obama’s proposed health care reform, a daunting task when half of those hospitals lose money.”
ARRA Healthcare Allocations
Many believe that the current state of the United States healthcare system is not sustainable. Lawmakers hope that the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act is the first step in a longer journey toward a better healthcare system. There are $147.7 billion dollars allocated specifically for healthcare initiatives, with stimulus funds appropriated as follows:
- $86.6 billion for Medicaid
- $24.7 billion to provide a 65% subsidy of healthcare insurance premiums for the unemployed under the COBRA program
- $19 billion for health information technology
- $10 billion for health research and construction of National Institutes of Health facilities
- $1.3 billion for medical care for servicemembers and their families (military)
- $1 billion for prevention and wellness
- $1 billion for the Veterans Health Administration
- $2 billion for Community Health Centers
- $1.1 billion to research the effectiveness of certain healthcare treatments
- $500 million to train healthcare personnel
- $500 million for healthcare services on Indian reservations
Lowering Healthcare Costs
Master Black Belt Anne-Claire France, Ph.D. at Memorial Hermann Healthcare System in Houston, Texas states, “Given how much waste and error currently exist in healthcare, improving current processes and designing new processes using Lean Six Sigma is a definite move towards achieving and sustaining reliability in high-quality, cost-effective care.” Implementing some pertinent uses of Lean Six Sigma in healthcare facilities alone can help reduce healthcare costs by billions of dollars each year. These costs can significantly decrease by cutting the red tape, preventing medical mistakes, providing improved patient care and initiating cost-saving efficiencies.
Can Lean Six Sigma in Healthcare Help?
At the forefront of the healthcare portion of the ARRA is critical savings of lives, jobs and money. Six Sigma and Lean methodologies can make a huge impact on all three areas. The many uses of Lean Six Sigma in healthcare are clear: preventing medical mistakes, decreasing mortality rates, lessening lengths of stay, improving patient care and increasing quality. There are ample opportunities to implement Six Sigma and Lean methodologies across the entire healthcare system. With an effective Lean Six Sigma training program and the alignment of significant players, success is virtually assured.
Remarkable Uses of Lean Six Sigma in Healthcare
In doctors’ offices, hospitals and clinics, the uses of Lean Six Sigma in healthcare include, shortening wait times, decreasing mortality rates, reducing costs and increasing efficiency. The impact of implementing Six Sigma and Lean methodologies has provided many benefits and success stories, such as:
- St. Joseph’s Hospital changed the ER patient flow, allowing the hospital to treat at least 10,000 more patients annually. – Tampa Bay Business Journal
- The Pittsburgh Regional Healthcare Initiative cut the amount of reported central line-associated bloodstream infections by more than 50%. The rate per 1,000 line days (the measure hospitals use) plummeted from 4.2 to 1.9. – ASQ.org (American Society for Quality)
- H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute is expected to increase procedural volume by 12%, which will add nearly $8 million annually in incremental margin. – Tampa Bay Business Journal
- A large metropolitan hospital system reduced inpatient transfers by 75% and has $2 million annual cost savings. – iSixSigma.com
- A top-five hospital system used Lean Six Sigma to redesign its transplant unit and as a result improved patient satisfaction by 50% within three months; the cost of care was reduced by 15%. – Quality Digest
- St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital made a 78% cut in the number of steps emergency department nurses take to get supplies. – USA Today
- A major hospital in the United States was able to reduce inpatient mortality rates by 47.8%. – iSixSigma.com
- North Mississippi Medical Center reduced the number of prescription errors in discharge documents by 50%. – ASQ.org(American Society for Quality)
- The Mayo Clinic’s Rochester Transplant Center reduced the cycle time from when a new patient made initial contact to setting up an appointment from 45 days to 3 days. – iSixSigma.com
- Mercy Medical Center decreased in-hospital mortality rates from 6.7% to 3.5%, a 47.8% reduction. – Medical News Today
What About Lean Six Sigma Training?
Throughout the healthcare reform discussion, it has been suggested that these quality improvements will require significant additional costs. Ideally, Lean Six Sigma training costs will be minimal, and the savings brought about from the learned and applied methodologies are substantial. With online Lean Six Sigma training programs like Villanova University’s 100% online Master Certificate in Six Sigma-Healthcare, you can gain the critical knowledge you need, work toward valuable certification and learn anytime, anywhere it’s convenient for you.
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According to the Six Sigma Academy, professionals with Black Belt certification save companies approximately $230,000 per project and can complete four to six projects per year.
How the Master Certificate in Six Sigma-Healthcare Can Benefit You
Through specific healthcare examples and case studies, Villanova University’s 100% online Master certificate program teaches you how the unique problems in the healthcare industry can be solved using Six Sigma techniques. This proven program shows you how to apply Six Sigma and Lean methodologies to eliminate non value-added steps, and reduce defects and variation, resulting in more efficient processes, better patient care and a stronger bottom line. Learn how healthcare organizations of all sizes – from small, rural clinics to large metropolitan hospital systems – can integrate the many uses of Lean Six Sigma in healthcare practices to improve every aspect of their organization.