Performance Improvement: Lean or Six Sigma
Performance improvement is a constant focus in healthcare today to reduce costs and meet the demands of value-based purchasing and healthcare reform. Healthcare organizations have implemented various performance improvement methodologies to reduce operating expenses while improving quality and patient outcomes (Betka, 2012). Many healthcare organizations have turned to performance improvement methods such as Lean and Six Sigma to manage their costs, productivity, customer needs, and operational growth (Betka, 2012).
The purpose of this paper is to discuss: (a) overall comparison of the Lean and Six Sigma performance improvement methods, (b) steps involved in implementing Lean and Six Sigma, (c) how each method would apply to a safety issue, (d) which method is personally preferred, (e) whether Lean or Six Sigma would provide the results desired; and (f) is Lean or Six Sigma currently employed in Cape Coral Hospital.
Performance Improvement Methods
Lean and Six Sigma appear to be the most popular and most frequently used performance improvement methods among healthcare today (Glasgow, Scott-Caziewell, & Kaboli, 2010).
Lean was created from a production process initially integrated by Henry Ford; however Lean was further developed and championed by the Toyota Motor Company in the 1930s (Lean Enterprise Institute [LEI], 2009). The Lean methodology and tools have spread much further than the automotive industry and now can be found in: retail, healthcare, construction, maintenance, and governments today (LEI, 2009).
Six Sigma was originally created by the Motorola Company in 1986 to improve the manufacturing process and eliminate defects ("Six Sigma," 2011). Six Sigma also gained popularity after being championed by General Electric to offer high quality and defect free products (Glasgow et al., 2010). Today Six Sigma is found in many organizations, manufacturers, and businesses that strive to reduce and eliminate defects.
Steps in Lean Methodology
According to the Lean Enterprise Institute (2009), the steps in implementing lean methodology are as follows: (1) identify the value, (2) map the value stream, (3) create the flow, (4) establish pull; and (5) seek perfection.
Lean methodology will focus on waste removal and improving flow time which results in less variation and standard work (Kubiak & Benbow, 2009). The implementation of Lean techniques involves frontline staff to identify the current state and determine what the ideal state should look like. A value stream map is created to allow for identification of all steps in a process and where waste exists (Dickson, Anguelov, Vetterick, Eller, & Singh, 2009). Ideas for improvement from the frontline staff are implemented by pilot phases which are a constant work in progress until the ideal state is achieved (Dickson et al., 2009). Job Instructions are then created to educate all staff and create standard work.
Steps in Six Sigma Methodology