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.
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
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
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
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.
At AMSURG, David Mayer, a certified Kaizen facilitator led a two-day Kaizen event that consisted of AMSURG corporate, clinical and operational staff. By collaborating on opportunities for improvement in all areas of center operations, the team implemented 12 key changes through the creation of best practices and creative problem solving with visual management tools. All in all, by eliminating duplication and reducing non-value added steps, the team was able to implement and sustain a 33 percent reduction in room turnover time. Talk about improving downtime!
Aquarian Healthcare Solutions
Aquarian Healthcare Solutions stands behind their cost savings solutions to healthcare facilities. Amy Gagliardi is the founder and president of Aquarian Healthcare Solutions and she is also a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. Gagliardi’s days are spent “assisting with setup of procurement software, analyzing spend and assisting my facilities in partnering with the correct group purchasing organization, as well as writing local contracts to reduce their costs.”
Continuous process improvement capabilities and Lean Six Sigma support Brian Allgood Army Community Hospital’s (BAACH) mission by providing tools to identify areas of the hospital that need improvement and how to find solutions. Alongside the pressure the military healthcare system faces which includes providing quality healthcare with efficiency, Lean Six Sigma training bridges gaps and supports the communication required to address areas of concern.
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 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.
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.
A group of 11 engineering & management students from Clarkson University were able to hone their real-world skills while improving various processes at Canton-Potsdam Hospital (CPH). Divided into groups to handle five improvement projects, the students incorporated Lean Six Sigma to determine ways to reduce food waste, streamline the process of transporting meal trays to patients, redesign the scheduling process for total joint replacements, trim the time to access safe patient handling equipment and improve the way digital patient information is entered. The students presented their results to the CPH leadership and administrators, who were amazed by the results achieved and quality of the work in all five projects.
Cape Cod Child Development CEO Anne Colwell is Lean Six Sigma certified and has implemented Lean Six Sigma techniques into many aspects of her life. In addition, when applying those same techniques into her work life, her results have been, in her words, “Incredible!” Cape Cod Child Development hopes to incorporate this methodology in an effort to achieve excellence and efficiency with revenue billing cycles, procurement, staff satisfaction, and bringing great services to children and families across the Cape.
Catalent Pharma Solutions
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.
Comprehensive Pharmacy Services
In the wake of a recent announcement by Comprehensive Pharmacy Services (CPS), the need for expanding and enhancing it’s telepharmacy division arises to meet the ever growing requirements of hospitals, health systems, and retail pharmacies.
As healthcare continues it’s shift from an inpatient to an outpatient service model, the new Telepharmcy facility is in position to help clients meet the growing needs for telepharmacy services to provide patients with direct access to pharmacists.
So how does Lean Six Sigma play a role? Pharmacists are trained in the Lean Six Sigma methodology, allowing CPS to assist clients in becoming more efficient and effective through their operation, and not just in processing medication orders.
Nurses on the frontlines are provided with direct access to pharmacists, resulting in fewer clinical errors and faster service.
“In the era of value-based care where healthcare providers are being paid for quality not quantity, our model is built around a team of pharmacy experts, working together from a central location,” said Joeseph Calomo, Division President for CPS Telepharmacy.
Comprehensive Pharmacy Services continues to devote it’s efforts to innovating processes and technology to equip their clients with the tools needed to be successful and ready to meet the demands of healthcare not only in the now, but in the future.
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.
Ellis Medicine of Schenectady, New York, and MC Assembly in Melbourne, Florida, are in different stages of their kaizen journey, but both have a resounding similar quality: a culture of creativity, open communication, and a drive for continuous improvement. In 2016, Ellis Medicine projected to save $1.8M via process improvement efforts through “improving a quality of care and financial strength by identifying more efficient process and cost savings,” which proved tremendously successful. Their triumph included a solution to IV pump shortages that saved $500,000 and identifying lab tests that could be done in-house which saved $1M. MC Assembly also continued their mission to process improvement, having staff in all three of their training facilities undergo Lean training to help inspire rapid change within the organization.
At EvergreenHealth Monroe in Washington, a sense of confidence exudes from newly minted Chief Nursing Officer, Brenda West. “By the end of the year this will be an amazing hospital,” she shares.
With a long history of inspiring change, West enjoys working in management, having over 25 years of experience and working in numerous rural hospitals. West’s husband shares that she shouldn’t have taken a previous role at what is now known as Summit Pacific Medical Center. It wasn’t known for having the best reputation, and was struggling significantly. But the MSU (Montana State University) alum worked to help turn the flailing facility into a nationally recognized care center.
As a working Lean Six Sigma Black Belt in her previous roles, West helped initiate change focused on promoting ‘patient-centered culture’ to reduce patient complaints by 50 percent, while also improving staff satisfaction. Not only did she successfully decrease nursing staff turnover by 30%, but directed change management initiatives during a $21 million hospital transition project.
In her new role at EvergreenHealth Monroe, West incites change through the use of daily “huddles” which aim to open the lines of communication and touch base on their plans and goals. While employees are still becoming acquainted with West’s approach, she can sense the shift in their philosophy on business processes. They are becoming more comfortable with speaking out and discussing the obstacles that are preventing them from providing the best patient-care experience.
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.
GetWellNetwork Recognizes National Health Systems, Hospitals and Individuals for Excellence in Interactive Patient Care
GetWellNetwork Inc., is the leader in Interactive Patient Care (IPC) solutions. This year, they announced over 10 recipients of this year’s IPC Awards recognizing health care leaders and organizations that have “demonstrated exceptional patient care and health and performance outcomes.”A committee of health care leaders and executives reviewed the submissions to select the finalists and winners out of 90 applicants.
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.
Healthcare Financial Management Association
The Healthcare Financial Management Association urges organizations to make quality their type priority. To make quality a top priority and excel, performance improvement methodologies like Lean and Six Sigma should be used and applied to long term goals.
Accurate tracking of the cycle time through the procurement process, common definition of an “initiative” and key process steps, and actionable reporting.
Intrepid USA Healthcare Services
Intrepid’s CEO, John M. Kunysz, Jr., continues his credence in that using a 100% US based workforce has enabled the organization to sustain it’s success through people that are servicing those where they have grown up, went to school, and worked there their entire lives. How has Lean Six Sigma played a role?
Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital
Prior to improving their onboarding process, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital (JHACH)’s provider enrollment process was slow and inefficient, with an average enrollment time of six months. Without timely enrollment in health plans, JHACH was dealing with patients who either had their scheduled visit delayed or had to see someone else, ultimately leading to practitioner and patient dissatisfaction. By using Lean Six Sigma workflow, combining departments to improve efficiencies and developing a tracking tool to keep an eye on what was going on, JHACH revamped their onboarding process and increased the number of hospital-employed providers who are active with health plans by nearly 30 percentage points.
Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice
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.
According to a study published in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, using Lean Six Sigma methodology was found to be successful in reducing the rate of cesarean sections from 41.83 to 32.00% within 10 months after introduction of the improvement measures.
Journal of Hospital Medicine
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 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.
Be happy that “Lean Six Sigma is being adopted by more and more health care practitioners, including hospitals, clinics, and individual physicians, not to mention pharmaceutical and medical device makers.” To improve healthcare, we can reduce surgical wait time, see more patients quickly, reduce nurse overtime and avoid added expenses! Statistical software, like Minitab, can help do the analysis on the Six Sigma side.
Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Los Angeles, California is reaching new heights as it recently became a Stage 7 facility on the Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM), something only achieved by 6.4% of hospitals in the United States. Their secret? Lean Six Sigma.
The Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM) is a tool for assessing how efficiently a facility uses Electronic Health Records (HER). It was designed by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), an organization that helps to guide healthcare facilities in their process to become more efficient through the implementation of new technologies. Martin Luther King Jr. has been able to achieve the highest stage on the EMRAM through Lean Six Sigma strategies.
Many of the hospital’s leaders are well-versed in Lean Six Sigma methodology, such Tracey Donegan the Chief Information and Innovation Officer. She was already working on or 15 Lean Six Sigma projects before attempting to reach Stage 7 on the ENRAM. One project focused on improving patient admittance flow through the hospital from the emergency department. Their original median time was 471 minutes, and after utilizing Lean Six Sigma strategies to analyze and adjust their process, they reduced their median time by 22%! These results and their impact on patient care are incredible. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital is truly leading the pack on process improvement through Lean Six Sigma.
Memorial Health System
Memorial Health System — a nonprofit, four-hospital system based in Springfield, Ill. — looked to re-engineer their structures, find new ways to engage with medical staff, and ultimately inform the training of next-generation physicians and health care professionals to build a sustainable path. To do this, they adopted a Lean Six Sigma approach and after a span of 6 years and over 300 Lean Six Sigma improvement projects, nearly $30 million in positive financial impact had transformed the Memorial culture.
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.
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
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.
Mountain States Health Alliance
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.
Multiple Healthcare Facilities
According to a Value Stream Mapping Event from an unknown healthcare system, only 10-35 percent of a clinic visit is considered “value add” for patients. That is less than half the process! To deliver more value, healthcare modifications in cycle time must happen by more than 50 percent and the center should achieve at least a 95 percent reduction in post-implementation information technology change requests. This can happen with the adoption of Lean. At least, that’s what we’re seeing at Toussaint’s ThedaCare, Seattle Children’s, Park Nicollet, and Denver Health.
North Valley Hospital
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.
Various university studies and research show that incorporating the lean methodology for community free clinics and low-resource pharmacies can greatly improve productivity as well as efficiency by guiding the removal of wasteful tasks within a workflow.
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.
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.
Physician Work Days
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.
Rhode Island Hospital
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.
Rochester Chamber Health Care
The Rochester Chamber Health Care Initiative has been recognized as an organization committed to “building strong and vibrant communities through groundbreaking collaboration and program development.” The goal of Rochester is to be the healthiest community in America and the implementation of Lean Six Sigma in areas of the hospital supports the goal.
Southern Health-Santé Sud
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.
St. Joseph’s Hospital
St. Joseph’s Hospital-Highland was recently honored by the Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA) for their quality improvement best practices using Lean Six Sigma. Outstanding work is being done to cut down costs and save lives, especially surrounding the care of Sepsis patients which is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States.
St. Lawrence County Health Initiative
The Clarkson University School of Business and the Health Initiative of St. Lawrence County have been working together over the past 3 years to improve hospital performance by “removing different types of inefficiencies and waste.” The goal was to reduce the amount of time it takes between a physician ordering an MRI to getting the results and they did it!
Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare
Envisioning 50 more years of supporting the community, Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare (TMH) embarked on a $157M project towards a new hospital using Lean Six Sigma to streamline cycle time for patients and employees alike. The project features “evidence-based” design concepts to increase patient outcome and patient satisfaction. As the project progresses towards completion in April 2019, TMH plans to utilize Lean Six Sigma principles to improve efficiency and effectiveness by minimizing travel distances and separating family and patient traffic to increase circulation.
Texas Children’s Health
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.
Leveraging data platforms, analytics, Six Sigma and lean technologies has produced successful outcomes and improvements for Thibodaux Regional Medical Center in Thibodaux, Louisiana. The technology and clinical staff members there have been focused on care transformation through the use of information technology, aiming to lowering costs, improving quality and increasing patient engagement.
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
We’ve heard it before, “Lean practices cannot be applied to many vital aspects of medicine.” But is it true? An Associate Professor from the University of Ohio is arguing otherwise after collaborating with physician leaders and nurses at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
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.
UMC Health System
Led by Operations Director, Paulo Maldonado, a recent 100-day waste walk yielded $3.7M in hard savings for the 2017 budget at UMC Health System. “It’s the small things,” says Lisa Barrington, Lean Six Sigma manager for UMC Health System as she exclaims the impact of hundreds of submitted process improvement projects through the walk. One project, in which they replaced dripping sanitizer dispensers with models that waste less, resulted in $12,000 saved per year. With projected savings of over $8M for 2018, UMC Health System’s continuous improvement efforts are aiming to yield higher engagement and happier customers.
UC Cancer Institute
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.
UC San Diego Medical Center
In a recent GoLeanSixSigma Success Story, UC San Diego’s very own Lily Angelocci shares how she helped save $4 million dollars that will provide more funding towards more programs for students and make a difference in healthcare. With improvement processes ranging from eliminating wasted steps in the manual verification process to identifying top root causes to improve the scanning rate, UC San Diego has had the opportunity to hire three full-time employees and have improved the clean room scanning rate from 34% to 80%. So how do the employees feel about the process now? “They are happy. They are constantly being recognized by our leaders in the department. They have accomplished a lot. So the team is very happy because of the improvement,” Lily shares. Lily and team UC San Diego is far from finished and currently have identified their next Black Belt Project: eliminating unnecessary medication inventory at both locations, HIllcrest and Lo Jolla. Continuous improvement at its finest, none the less!