Lean Six Sigma and Health Care Industry: Industry Insights

Lean Six Sigma and Health Care Industry: Industry Insights

We recently spoke to Stuart Cox, a  BPG LSSBB (2013)  graduate who has since acquired substantial experience applying his Lean Six Sigma skills in health care.  He is currently working as a consultant focused on Health Care and  Food Service for Creative Process Solutions, LLC. He sees a lot of opportunity in health care for Six Sigma Green and Black Belts. Healthcare ishe saysa complex environment with a lot of external compliance factors driving local processes – processes that can be streamlined.

Hospitals and other health care facilities have processes in clinical operations, accounting, customer service, and HR that can be improved with LSS tools to deliver optimal patient outcomes. If you have experience in those areas plus a Black Belt or Green Belt, point that out in a job interview. Hospitals place a particular focus on clinical safety, quality and patient experience. Projects that address those areas can vary greatly in scope. For example, nurse or physician teams may identify problems with workflow or patient safety with a particular clinical process that can be addressed quickly with LSS tools. Other projects may take on major quality control concerns such as managing “hospital acquired” infections or patient readmissions (real problems common to all hospitals). Still others can focus on administrative rather than medical processes, such as designing more efficient and effective clinical meetings or improving supply chain, revenue cycle, and accounting systems. *

You can find many examples of how LSS is being applied in the health care industry to achieve “high reliability” by visiting The Joint Commission web site or the websites of hospitals in your state.  The Joint Commission is an independent and not-for-profit organizations that sets standards and provides accreditation to health care providers.

Amazon. com has several books on the topic. A few books of interest include:

Six Sigma for Hospitals by Jay Arthur, creator of QI Macros

Transforming Health Care: Virginia Mason Medical Center’s Pursuit of the Perfect Patient Experience by Charles Kenney

 Lean Sigma : Rebuilding Capability in Healthcare by Ian D. Wedgwood

Performance Improvement for Healthcare: Leading Change with Lean, Six Sigma, and Constraints Management 1st Edition by Bahadir Inozu, Ph.D, Dan Chauncey, Vickie Kamataris, Charles Mount

* Visit the BPG Blog  to find these three articles on LSS and health care:

From Debbie Curl-Nagy: Coordinating Patient Care in Oncology Unit (includes tips for a Kaizen event) https://breakthrough-performance.com/debbie-curl-nagy-regional-director-bpg-kentucky-office/.

From Joe Valvona, Using Design of Experiments and Regression Analysis to Improve Collections Rate https://breakthrough-performance.com/lean-six-sigma-improves-collections-rates-contributed-by-joe-valvona/ and data analysis to reduce patient waiting times in an emergency room https://breakthrough-performance.com/six-sigma-helps-reduce-customer-waiting-times-contributed-by-joe-valvona/


To find health care providers looking for people with Black or Green Belt certification, include terms like Lean Six Sigma, process improvement, and quality control in your on-line job searches. Stuart Cox had a long and successful career in the food industry when he applied for (and got) a job in health care process improvement.  He credits his success to these three factors:

  1. Linking his prior experience to the requirements of the new job. He emphasized how the food industry’s focus on quality, safety, and customer experience mirrored the hospital’s focus on ensuring safety, quality, and a positive customer experience. Among the transferrable skills he identified, using Voice of the Customer tools to gather information.
  2. Demonstrating his understanding of the hospital processes. Stu spent some time in a waiting room of the hospital he was hired by. He was there because he was accompanying his mother to appointments.  Being a “process guy” it was natural for him to view hospital workflows from a value stream perspective.  When he applied for an opening at that hospital, he created a Six Sigma storyboard –as well as relevant project management examples from his consulting work to his interview.
  3. Being a Certified LSSBB. The staff at the hospital had already adopted Six Sigma tools and their staff included Black Belts, Green Belts and “change agents” who act as champions of process optimization and change. The Black Belt was a significant advantage.