Six sigma approach to management of quality and productivity in healthcare
The healthcare sector has been operating on the traditional era of the economic domain disregarding the emerging factors such as safety for patients, competition, rising healthcare cost, increasing liability lawsuits and strict regulation by the government. But in the recent past, these forces have become more rampant and competition in the sector has intensified. Consequently, hospitals have realized the need for controlling operational cost as well as meeting patients’ quality needs (Ulmer and Burke 28). Under the existing environment that consist of numerous forces such as steeper competition, higher patients’ expectations and pressure from government agencies, delivery systems in the healthcare have been facing formidable challenges. This paper provides a robust model of six sigma approaches to help in improving productivity and quality in delivery system.
Improving quality of service and overall productivity
Patient care involves the human element significantly as compared to the machine element. It is however difficult to express the variation in quantitative measures. Consequently, the challenge in applying the six sigma approach in the healthcare involves looking for a way of leveraging data from the six sigma to develop human behavior. Success is only achieved when six sigma approaches is integrated with cultural strategy to accelerate change and promote better operational mechanism. Patients are the customers in the healthcare and maintaining satisfaction for customers is a top priority for many organizations. The traditional notion that healthcare is a basic necessity and that people will keep on going for the same healthcare provider irrespective of whether they are satisfied is long gone. Patients today have more access o information about healthcare and are capable of making better decisions for treatment. Patients started choosing providers of healthcare on the basis of quality as well as satisfactory level (Kudyba 126). Similarly, hospital administrators now are using perceptions and views of patients’ to improve their services. The sigma approach to improving quality involves six identifiable steps;
- defining the scope and goals of the project such as boosting patients’ satisfaction or reducing service waiting time,
- Creating a performance baseline for comparing data such as developing quantifiable lower and upper control limits against which the performance can be measured.
- Monitoring performance continuously and collecting data for patient satisfaction survey or for service waiting time.
- Analyzing the root causes of the problem as well as solving the problem when performance level goes below the expected or lower limit.
- Executing procedures and processes for eliminating the problem and improving the system performance.
- Evaluating and measuring performance of the delivery system after implementing to obtain the results and initiate corrective measures.
Exceeding the patients’ expectations and treatment needs calls for improving patient outcomes, reducing cost to remain competitive and improving quality to high standards. Since the six sigma approach is new in the healthcare sector, numerous opportunities exist for health providers to explore. Patients are potential team members in six sigma projects to ensure quality and productivity is improved because it easy to know what they like and what they don’t. Six sigma approach is a perfect approach to utilize in reducing time spent in the emergency rooms by ensuring patients are discharged quickly (Milakovich 87). Six sigma approach can be used in healthcare laboratories for managing issues through optimization of resources. Further, it can be used in designing hospital facilities as well as remodeling the existing ones. Also, the six sigma approach can help in optimizing scheduling of testing time to give priority to patients who require urgent testing.
Kudyba, Stephan. Healthcare Informatics: Improving Efficiency and Productivity. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2010. Print.
Milakovich, Michael E. Improving Service Quality: Achieving High Performance in the Public and Private Sectors. Delray Beach, Fla: St. Lucie Press, 1995. Print
Ulmer, Cheryl. and Sheila Burke. Future Directions for the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press, 2010. Internet resource.