Can Six Sigma Applied In Healthcare – DMEPOS?
Aligning Six Sigma with DMEPOS providers with the fundamental objectives of the organization is one of the keys to success, and all streams within must show a clear business case in order to gain the required allocation of time and resources.
As a technical strategy for process and quality improvement in DMEPOS (and particularly when coupled with strong change management tools like change acceleration process [CAP] and Work-out), the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) approach has been successful in driving a wide range of sustainable results, including:
- Medical error reduction and patient safety improvement
- Improvements in patient, physician and employee satisfaction
- Increase in capacity and throughput
- Improvements in supply chain management
- Streamlining and optimizing technologies and related workflow
- Development of internal leadership capabilities
- Identification of market growth opportunities
- Cost management and revenue enhancement
- Achieving compliance and meeting regulatory requirements
The Effectiveness (E) of the result is equal to the Quality (Q) of the solution time the Acceptance (A) of the concept.
|Six Sigma Methodology||Change Acceleration Process||Effective Results|
The DMAIC approach has worked quite well for healthcare processes that have both measurable response variables and causal factors that are primarily controllable.
Yet, since healthcare involves human behavior and a great deal of interaction between people, processes and technology, we often face a situation where critical issues are being driven by uncontrollable factors and require intervention at the design level.
How To Design DMPEOS for Six Sigma Excellence
Progress applying Six Sigma in DMEPOS are at early stages but has been steady and significant.
The next wave of change, however, will likely go beyond DMAIC to involve the creation of new processes not bound by investments in archaic technologies, outmoded policies and procedures and other encumbrances inherent in the system.
As Healthcare organizations we will need to do more than simply improve upon the current system.
The design process gathers customer requirements and translates them into process specifications, then into system design requirements and finally into subsystem and process design requirements.
As with DMAIC, DFSS involves a structured, five-phased approach and the application of rigorous statistical tools and techniques.
DFSS has been used by many industries for a myriad of purposes – in this case designing new medical equipment, create better systems for customer relationship management and even to launch new business verticals from concept to completion.
Research studies have shown that 80 percent of quality issues are linked to the design of a product or process, in this case DFSS addresses this problem head-on and delivers long-term cost avoidance and customer satisfaction by ensuring the design clearly meets patient specifications and has been rigorously tested against possible defects.
Take Away For DMEPOS Providers & Physicians
Properly implemented with leadership support and the use of change management techniques to address cultural barriers and build acceptance, Six Sigma has achieved substantial success.
It has been tested and proven at the individual department level, within small, rural hospitals / clinics, in freestanding imaging centers, throughout large teaching facilities and across multi-hospital systems.
DMAIC and DFSS each have their place within any organization striving for excellence.
There are advantages to both applications of Six Sigma within healthcare, and organizations should carefully assess their specific needs and preparedness for either targeted or systemic change.