Lean Six Sigma Success Stories - Healthcare and Medical - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Below are Lean Six Sigma success stories in the Healthcare industry organized alphabetically. For success stories in other industries, please visit our Lean Six Sigma Success Stories page.


Aetna CIO Meg McCarthy Brings Disciplined Delivery to Aetna

McCarthy singles out Aetna’s network and data center infrastructure organization in this respect, which operates at a Six Sigma level and, she asserts, has no peer in the health insurance industry. “We run a very cost-efficient infrastructure organization in support of our portfolio of business capabilities,” she says. “We are usually compared to large banks and have outperformed our banking colleagues by over 40 percent in all of the commodity aspects of the benchmarks that we apply annually.”

Affordable Care Act

From Volume To Value: Healthcare Reform Reshapes Delivery Models And Diagnostic Laboratories

With the new Affordable Care Act (ACA), clinical laboratories, doctors’ offices, and hospitals are seeing a large number of new patients. To help eliminate unnecessary testing, provide seamless access to laboratory results throughout the continuum of care, improve the quality of testing, and reduce errors, healthcare provide organizations are opting for Lean Six Sigma principles and connectivity solutions.

Akron Children’s Hospital

Lean Six Sigma Process Gives Neurology A New Look

Akron Children’s neurology department began a redesign project 2 years ago that involved all levels of providers, staff, and patient families. The improvement project used kaizen, which focuses on continuous improvement, and was held, in a warehouse to propose a true-to-size floor plan. There were inefficiencies in the floor’s original design and delays in daily operations. By creating a new layout using Lean processes, office sizes were reduced and additional patient rooms were added.

American Society For Quality

Lean Six Sigma Changing Healthcare As More Providers Adopt Methods

Fifteen years ago, Marti Beltz, a healthcare instructor with the American Society for Quality in Milwaukee, started applying Lean Six Sigma to healthcare. Back then, Beltz said there were no books or conferences. Now, applying manufacturing quality improvements to the healthcare environment requires a learning curve but healthcare leaders are embracing it with the abundance of resources.


Six Sigma, the Baxter Way

Baxter Healthcare takes a unique approach to organizational excellence, treating each facility as if it were its own independent small company. Six Sigma has allowed the company to make tremendous strides in productivity. Allen Harmon, director of operations at Baxter’s Biologics facility in Hayward, Calif., explains how.

Billings Clinic

Persistence of Vision: Billings Clinic CEO Dr. Nicholas Wolter Shares His Perspectives

Billings Clinic based in Montana is a not-for-profit health care organization. CEO Dr. Nicholas Wolter merged with his first hospital in 1993. Since then, nearly 200 physicians have joined the self-governing organization where physicians in practice are heard and listened to. Billings Clinic has become an innovative organization by spending time on both culture and quality. Quality projects are currently underway using Six Sigma and they are persistent in improving patient safety and care quality.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Louisiana

Visual Management Helps Reduce Penalties From Delayed Health Insurance Claims

The migration to the new system was completed in 2011. The chart above reflects the downward trend in the percentage of claims associated with interest penalties over the past 4 years. There is still room for improvement, but we have started the trend in the correct direction and have prevented an additional $2M in 2011 if the same penalty rate had continued through.

Bode Technology

Lean Six Sigma Consulting for Forensic Laboratories

The Bode Technology Group, Inc., provider of forensic DNA solutions, launched a Lean Six Sigma initiative last year in order to improve efficiency, increase throughput, and streamline resources for forensic laboratories worldwide. Bode’s CEO, Mike Cariola, stated in this article, that “Forensic laboratories are facing an increase in demand for services coupled with new budgetary challenges.” By implementing a Lean Six Sigma approach, there has been an increase in productivity and an increase in the number of forensic cases worked on while maintaining quality standards.

Canadian Medical Laboratories

Canadian Medical Laboratories Face Squeeze, Need To Acquire New Diagnostic Technologies And Increased Demand For Lab Tests

Medical laboratories in Canada are struggling to find more funding and space with an increasing number of patients. With this struggle, certain laboratories are struggling to meet the steady annual increase in lab specimens that must be tested and how to do the additional testing even as government health systems trim budgets each year. Responding operationally, medical labs are beginning to respond with Lean Six Sigma and process improvement methods.

Catalent Pharma Solutions

Evolving To A More Efficient and Lean Clinical Trial Supply Model

Dianne Coughlan, Global Director, Supply Chain Effectiveness from Catalent Pharma Solutions will be presenting at the upcoming Clinical Trials Supply Europe Conference. Coughlan is experienced in Lean approaches and will present how traditional supply-led approaches cause delays and challenges in the field.

Deaconess Gateway Hospital

Deaconess Gateway Hospital Drives Lean Six Sigma Initiative With Stanley Healthcare’s Asset Management Solution

Deaconess Gateway Hospital recently announced an advanced deployment of an asset management system with Stanley Healthcare, a leading provider of visibility solutions and analytics for healthcare industries. The solution was selected as a part of a Lean Six Sigma project to improve the management of mobile assets. The project goal is to streamline preventative maintenance for the hospitals fleet of IV pumps and modules. In addition, the hospital hopes to save “five-figure expenses related to loss of telemetry packs” and achieve overall, measurable success.

DJO Global

DJO Global Reduces Lead-Times By 80% And Inventory From 84 To 14 Days

Re-shoring its production from Asia to the U.S. and Mexico lead to savings and improved operations in the form of reduced lead times (from weeks to days), reduced logistical costs, decreased inventory carrying expenses, stronger IP protections, and the faster development of new products.

GE Healthcare

GE Healthcare To Plow $2B Into Software Development

CEO of Healthcare IT and Performance Solutions for GE Healthcare Jan De Witte acknowledges that cultural and workflow modifications will be needed to make make use of technology. Their Performance Solutions unit works with clinicians on change management, and uses consultants to teach Lean & Six Sigma skills to change processes and help them adapt.


The Six Sigma Cure

Valeant reports that it saved $10 million in its first full year of practicing lean Six Sigma, a figure that includes deep staff reductions in almost two dozen of its worldwide manufacturing plants. The company has reduced its manufacturing staffing levels from almost 12,000 to just over 3,800, and its number of plants from 33 to just eight. The company reports that it plans to further reduce its manufacturing staff this year, when it closes facilities in Montreal and Brazil. Overall staffing levels are expected to remain steady, though, as the company hires additional sales representatives. All of this–fewer manufacturing personnel, but additional sales reps–is a testament to the remarkable efficiencies Valeant has made.


The Power of Six Sigma in Procurement

Accurate tracking of the cycle time through the procurement process, common definition of an “initiative” and key process steps, and actionable reporting.

Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice

Lean Six Sigma Approach Ups Quality of Hip Replacement Sx

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, the Lean Six Sigma approach can be implemented to improve quality of care and reduce costs in prosthetic hip replacement surgery. Researchers identified that with corrective actions, the effectiveness and efficiency of the care processes for prosthetic hip replacement surgery can improve. There was a 44 percent reduction in the average length of stay after implementation of Lean Six Sigma improvement actions.

Journal of Hospital Medicine

Lean Six Sigma Advances Pediatric Patient Discharges

Michael J. Beck, M.D., and Kirk Gosik, both from Penn State University in Hershey, Pennsylvania assessed the impact of Lean Six Sigma on advancing times of placement of discharge order and patient discharge among hospitalized pediatric patients compared to other children’s hospital services. The research shows that Lean approaches can have an immediate impact on advancing patient discharges without losing quality requirements.

Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center

Lean Reduces ICU-transfer-to-bed Time by 50% For Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center

Lean management principles are paying off for the Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center in Vancouver. The hospital began developing a systematic way to monitor and improve work processes in 2010 through multiple pilot lean initiatives in its ICU, food/nutrition, and rehabilitation departments. Results include reducing the time it takes to secure a bed for ICU-transferred patients by 50%, visual management boards with performance measurements, and recognizing good work by specific employees.

Lexington Clinic

Manufacturing Processes Pay Off For The Lexington Clinic

“The idea is that you can measure anything, including quality,” Thomas said. Officials with the Lexington Clinic believe efficient manufacturing holds the key to cutting healthcare costs. This past summer, an organization that advocates for the provision of high-quality health care recognized Lexington Clinic in Kentucky, USA. One example of a great improvement at the clinic that drew recognition was their change in organizing drugs by type instead of by name.

McKesson Corporation

Six Sigma

McKesson’s deep experience with complex back office, supply chain, and information technology in health care management projects has earned us recognition as an industry leader. By implementing Six Sigma discipline, the company has achieved outstanding results:

  • Transformed business from function-oriented to process-oriented
  • Achieved more than $100 million in internal savingsL
  • Proven method to identifying and eliminating profit leaks
  • Improved customer experience and service capabilities
  • Gained a competitive and cost advantage

Memorial Hermann Health System

Hand Hygiene Improvement Tool Linked to Decrease in HAIs at Memorial Hermann Health System

This month, Joint Commission Resources Inc. announced improvements associated with sustained reductions in healthcare-associated infections. Memorial Hemann Health Systems’ system-wide hand hygiene compliance improved to 95.6 percent in the final 12 months. The Targeted Solutions Tool® (TST®) helped 150 patient units and 12 hospitals improve hand hygiene. The tool was founded on Lean Six Sigma and other improvement methodologies.


Merck’s Continuous Process Improvement

Four years ago, Merck, an American pharmaceutical company, committed to continuous improvement. The company began with Lean, Six Sigma, Kaizen, Agile, and total quality management. Once these improvement approaches were in place, Merck was able to not only achieve initial results; they were also able to progress with other process improvements and initiatives.

Mercy Medical Center

Emergency Rooms Busy With Medi-Cal Patients

Last week, Mercy Medical Center in Merced, California almost reached a new record of emergency room patients seen in 24 hours. The Medical Center saw 270 patients and the record is 273. As the second year of newer health care laws unfold in the United States, emergency rooms are busier than in previous years. To accommodate the increase in patient visits, hospitals are increasing medical staff and learning new methodologies to improve patient processing. Methodologies include Lean and Lean projects.


Application of Lean Six Sigma Methodologies to Enhance EHS Performance

Application of Lean Six Sigma methodologies can, and do, yield EHS benefits by:

  • Reducing wastes: solid wastes, movement
  • Decreasing costs: disposal, medical, inventory
  • Improving quality: removal of non-value added steps
  • Increasing benefit to shareholders and customers: increasing profitability and continuity of supply

Mountain States Health Alliance

Lean Management For Cutting Costs And A Happier Hospital

Mountain States Health Alliance, a 14-hospital health system with facilities in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia, uses Lean management to not only cut costs, but also improve patient and employee satisfaction. Since implementing Lean processes and procedures, Mountain States has been able to identify achievable, overarching goals. Team members at Mountain States also report less steps in daily work.

Northeast Georgia Health System

Northeast Georgia Health System Recognized As One Of Metro Atlanta’s Top 100 Workplaces, Due In Part To Lean Six Sigma Practices

Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) has been recognized as one of Metro Atlanta’s Top 100 Workplaces by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 2012. Part of their success is due to Lean Six Sigma principles; NGHS encourages their front-line staff to take personal ownership of patient care excellence, resulting in multiple refinements in policy and practice. Once problems are identified, NGHS forms a multidisciplinary team from different departments to find process solutions.

North Valley Hospital

North Valley Hospital Looks Closely At Strengths

Mike Zwicker, CEO of North Valley Hospital, takes quality care seriously. He states that slow decision making is an area that needs focus at North Valley. To provide further services at North Valley that Zwicker believes are important for the community, geriatric services and extended care, waste reductions need to happen and slow decision making needs to speed up.

Patheon Inc.

Patheon’s Lean Times

Patheon Advantage is successful for us because it is based on the principles of Lean Six Sigma: focus on customer value, make decisions based on data, eliminate waste and variation, and engage our people to make change. One of the most valuable Lean Six Sigma tools for us has been value stream mapping. It helps us understand our business “door-to-door,” so we can eliminate the bottlenecks and waste that inhibit responsiveness and increase cost.

Premier Health Care Alliance

Premier Health Care Alliance Members Save $4.2 Billion By Improving Care Delivery Processes

Members of the Premier healthcare alliance collectively saved over $4.2 billion in 2011 through a combination of improved processes and care delivery efficiencies. Collaboration, data integration, and new purchasing practices accounted for $1.45 billion, while lowered hospital product pricing made up the remaining $2.75 billion in savings. In total, this is equivalent to the annual salary of over 70,000 nurse practitioners.

Physician Work Days

Is Insurance Bureaucracy Lengthening Physician Workdays?

A 2008 study shows 59% of U.S. physicians support a single-payer system. So, why isn’t this system in place? Currently, a typical physician office spends 20 hours a week on insurance administrative tasks. These kinds of tasks can be reduced with a single-payer system while more time is spent on patients. To push back administrative duties, healthcare providers are also looking to methodologies such as Lean and Six Sigma.

Providence Health & Services

Providence Health & Services, California Wins Top International Business Award as “Best of the Best”

The Catholic non-profit healthcare organization, which saved about $11 million over two years in streamlining processes, also won the award for Best Achievement of Organizational Business Improvement in Health Care.

Quest Diagnostics

The Power Of Six Sigma Quality

  • Achieved >85% defect reduction in wait times with no additional staffing.
  • Achieved 60% reduction in specimen processing accuract.
  • Achieved >80% defect reduction in missing/lost specimens
  • Achieved >75% reduction in instrument measurement variability
  • Achieved >50% reduction in outbound TNP calls
  • Achieved 60% defect reduction in hospital neonatal intensive care specimen collection errors

Clinical Pathology Laboratory Managers Use Lessons In The Best Of Medical Laboratory Quality To Improve Lab Operations and Patient Safety

Earlier this month, the Nation’s largest gathering of clinical laboratory Lean, Six Sigma, and process improvement practitioners took place in New Orleans. These labs, which include but are not limited to Quest Diagnostics, Banner Health, Henry Ford Health Systems and more, are committed to creating and sustaining a culture of quality and continuous process improvement. Vice Presidents spoke to share their laboratory standards and how they use Lean Six Sigma across all their labs.

Rhode Island Hospital

Six Sigma Techniques Improve Operating Room Patient Flow

The researchers found that implementing Six Sigma methodology identified ways to improve the efficiency of frontline staff members and streamline workflow to improve OR patient flow, reduce workflow stress, and eliminate redundancy and waste, but didn’t require a reduction in the number of employees. Employee morale, job satisfaction and safety, and patient experience were all improved.

Saskatoon Health Region

Saskatoon Health Region Sees Encouraging Early Results In Utilizing Lean To Reduce Budget By $30 Million

Saskatoon Health Region’s goal is reduce its budget by $30 million without cutting back on services or staff by using Lean. So far, $800,000 in lost time due to just scheduling problems has been identified. According to CEO and President Maura Davies, “We know there is waste in the system. In a large, complex one like ours, we know there are opportunities, and we want to go out and find them.”

Part of the Lean approach is to protect staff health and safety, which can reduce overtime and sick pay expenses. Davies acknowledges the healthcare industry could be more diligent in protecting its workers and stresses, “it needs to be part of the culture of the organization.” This focus on safety has already led a reduction of 12 less cases of surgical site infection, which in turn resulted in a savings of $300,000. Rapid process improvement workshops have also helped to reduce patient walking time by 85% time and removed unnecessary steps in patient label creation.

Overall, Davies is optimistic about early results. “I think we will find savings this year, and we will continue to find them over many years.”

Southern Health-Santé Sud

Lean Program Making Huge Strides In Health Care

Last week, Kathy McPhail, CEO of Southern Health-Santé Sud, celebrated advances in procedural healthcare over the past year. Some of the advances include a Lean program which made huge strides in one area it was implemented already. The strides pave the way for more successful strides.


Real-Time Radiography Automated X-Ray Inspection Strategies

Product quality can keep pace with the ever-changing world of SMT board design and manufac- turing. But to keep pace, manufacturers must look to adopting solutions that utilize process data to limit and perhaps prevent defects, even on complex PCBA’s with high joint count toward six sigma defect levels. Automated control offers the most effective solution to enable process and defect management. With recent advances in real-time software solutions, on-line data collection, and display can help manufacturers keep pace with their demanding environment.

Texas Children’s Health

Salute to Nurses: Top 10 Area Nurses Receive Recognition for Dedicated Care of Those in Need

There are more than 3.1 million nurses in the United States and they are they largest component of the health care profession today. 10 nurses were recently selected as examples representing the many nurses who work every day in medical settings. Janet Treadwell, RN, Director of Care Coordinator at Texas Children’s Health and 1 of 10 remarkable examples of dedicated nurses obtained Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification in the midst of obtaining degrees and four other certifications.

Two Top Ten Pharmaceutical Companies

Two Top Ten Pharmaceutical Companies Realize Up To 80% Time Savings And $3 Million Cost Savings Utilizing ELN And Lean Six Sigma Workflow Analysis

The successful implementation of an ELN are the focus of two case studies at two top ten pharmaceutical companies. For the uninitiated, ELN stand for electronic laboratory notebooks, and are used by researchers to gather information electronically–as opposed to the traditional bench-flow workflows that utilize paper logbooks.

In the first case study, a top ten pharmaceutical company replaced over 1,000 paper logbooks, wiped out handwriting legibility issues and transcription errors, and improved log retrieval times using an ELN. The time savings were considerable:

  • 75% time savings in documenting standard preparations
  • 80% time savings in verifying weight balances
  • 33% time savings in creating an instrument work list for the Chromatography Data System
  • $500,000 in savings each year

In a second study, another top ten pharmaceutical company eliminated waste and variability. The result? A staggering cost savings of $3 million per year by implementing ELN as an information hub and exchange vehicle.

In both cases, Lean Six Sigma workflow analysis was crucial in helping both businesses to transition from paper logbooks to ELN.

UC Cancer Institute

UC Cancer Institute, Lindner College Partner for Patient Satisfaction Through Lean Training

The UC Cancer Institute recognizes patient satisfaction as one of the most important aspects of healthcare. Franklin Smith, MD clinical director for the University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute noticed gaps in patient satisfaction and efficiency. With the gaps in mind, Franklin Smith saw a need for Lean training. The Lean training that was implemented has led to a massive improvement in operational and administrative duties. The improvement has also led to focuses on reorganization of processes to help speed up the start of inpatient chemotherapy.

Managing Risk And Driving Profitability With Today’s Process Analytical Technologies In the Pharmaceutical Industry

Lean Six Sigma, Total Quality Management, and Continuous Improvement Strategy are common discussions in manufacturing plans. All these techniques have one goal in common: “to develop processes that maximize productivity and consistency and minimize risk to workers, consumers, and to the company.” The pharmaceutical industry is now starting to identify what process parameters most affect product quality and then devise control strategies to assure consistent quality production. The risk of striving for Six Sigma is said to far outweigh the cost of implementation of process control strategies.

U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa

U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa, Japan, Earns Two DoD Awards

United States Naval Hospital Okinawa was recognized in the 2015 Department of Defense Quality and Patient Safety Awards. The Quality and Patient Safety Awards recognize efforts to decrease harm and improve overall health care. “Prevention of Hypothermia in Preterm Newborn” and “Reduction of Not-In-Stock Medication Levels” at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa were recognized for outstanding accomplishments. The accomplishments initially started as Lean Six Sigma projects.

View All Success Stories By Industry

Join the GoLeanSixSigma.com mailing list for new Lean Six Sigma success stories, application tips and innovative implementation ideas from highly experienced, successful process improvement experts!