Lean Six Sigma

Lean Six Sigma is a powerful, data-driven, method for improving quality, service, efficiency, and value in healthcare. Refined over many decades in high-demand industries (manufacturing, military, nuclear safety), this approach has only recently been applied to healthcare improvement. When implemented as part of a quality and safety culture, the results are dramatic.


MHQA Lean Six Sigma projects have generated significant impacts on patient outcomes, system finances and the six aims of the Institute of Medicine. These include projects on:

  • Appropriate contrast use during cardiac catheterization decreasing kidney injuries
  • Significant improvement in processes of care for sepsis patients, saving numerous lives and healthcare costs
  • Patient flow in the ED, perioperative department and other areas throughout Memorial Health System have resulted in decreased wait times for patients and significantly shortened time to treatment
  • Appropriate blood product use and the use of off-site telemetry generated significant safety improvements for patient care, as well as financial impacts to the bottom line

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Lean Six Sigma is both a philosophy and a technology for redesigning the healthcare operation and for maintaining those results. Lean Six Sigma is based on the following ideas:

  • Understanding the voice of the customer (what does the customer really want?)
  • Understanding the voice of process (how does the work get done?)
  • Removing non-value added steps, waste and hassles
  • Removing the unwanted process variation that leads to unwanted (unreliable) outcomes
  • Managing by fact through the use of a reliable measurement system
  • Applying a systematic, scientific approach to improvement (Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control) to produce real and lasting gains

Additionally, the MHQA has incorporated virtual and live simulation to test hypothesis before full implementation occurs. 

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