Determinants of Lean Six Sigma Success in Health care
Objective: Identify central issues that prevent Lean Six Sigma (LSS) projects from achieving intended targets and sustaining the improved state in the health care environment.
Methods: Focused interviews with seven experienced process improvement experts in the health care environment serving as key informants.
Results: Key informants noted barriers that prevented LSS projects from achieving lasting success which were grouped into six themes: insufficient leadership commitment and support; lack of project alignment to health care business strategies; lack of appropriate investments in LSS solutions; declaring victory too soon; lack of health care business experience from LSS practitioners;…show more content… The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), as an example, allocated more than $147 billion to health care to target efforts to reduce waste in the system and improve efficiency, patient quality, safety, and outcomes. In fact, each of the nation’s nearly six thousand hospitals must cut approximately $2.6 million a year for the next 10 years to get US health care to reach sustainable state and meet President Obama’s health care reform, according to a US Today article (Uses of Lean Six Sigma in Healthcare). The growing popularity of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) process improvement methodology mainly stems from this impending sustainability issue of health care (Schmidt, 2008); however, LSS has been used to improve clinical outcomes and patient safety as well as reducing health care costs (Protzman, Mayzell, & Kerpchar,…show more content… Lean originates from Toyota automotive company in Japan and is a set of principally driven tools and techniques used to empower the entire organization to constantly improve the processes to ensure waste is minimized, the flow of processes is also streamlined, and the biggest focus is on the customers and their satisfaction (Womack & Miller, Going Lean in Healthcare, 2005). Lean is based on five principles namely; identification of customer requirements; elimination of non-value added elements in the value stream of each product or activity; adoption of best cultural practices that allow continuous smooth flow of the value stream; identification of process flow elements that would benefit from “pull” technique rather than pushing work to the next value stream; and finally, focusing on perfecting the value chain to eliminate unnecessary steps that consume time (Womack & Jones, Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation, 2003). In addition, the Lean process has three stages: the stage of acceptance, the technical stage, and finally the sustainment stage where the culture has been built, but, constant review and reminding is required (Plenert, 2007). Lean generally utilizes cross-functional management techniques through utilization of teams in a flat hierarchy of supervising managers to execute projects (Jackson,