Six Sigma Helps Reduce Customer Waiting Times – Contributed by Joe Valvona
Lean Six Sigma projects don’t have to last a long time to yield significant results. A hospital was concerned about the amount of time it took for emergency room patients to be seen and either released or admitted to the hospital. Joe was called on to help determine if (any how many) more nurses were needed to improve the flow.
With plenty of emergency room data available, Joe worked with the Emergency Department Director to outline a data collection plan, analyze arrival data by time of day and day of week, and discuss the implications of the findings. They created a series of graphs that showed the relationship between:
- the number of patients in a bed,
- the number of nurses on duty,
- the time of day, and
- the day of the week.
Their analysis and recommendations were provided in about three weeks. Their findings: in general, the emergency room had the right number of people on staff – just not on duty at the right times. The hospital determined that by adjusting the number of nurses on duty during each hour of the day and by adding only a few additional nurses, process cycle time could be reduced to a much better level. The result: They spent less on new hires than anticipated and improved customer experience.