Applying Six Sigma to the Health Care
Applying Six Sigma to the Health Care Industry
Six Sigma is classified as one of the most powerful business strategy which has dramatically changed the position of healthcare industry within the last twenty years. It is a process improvements methodology which has been employed in the healthcare sector to help in reducing rates of medical errors. In the current healthcare industry, Six Sigma processes is viewed as a systematic, disciplined and data driven approach which is used to reduce rate of process variations (Krishnamoorth, 2011). Looking at Six Sigma’s nature or operation it focuses on reducing procedural mistakes and errors, this will eventually help an organization to achieve its bottom-line financial goals as well as strengthening its market position. Six Sigma has traditionally been applied in the manufacturing industry so there are unique challenges in applying Six Sigma to the healthcare industry. The largest of these challenges being that in the manufacturing industry one can essentially use machines to automate the procedure to create less variability in the process. The healthcare industry is different from manufacturing industry because the healthcare industry is wholly dependent on a human process and therefore it becomes difficult to identify or even quantify the causes of variability.
Brief Overview of Six Sigma
Six Sigma was invented by the Motorola Company in the late 1980’s. Since the invention of the Six Sigma process, its effectiveness has been proved by several companies adopting and implementing it. Among such companies include but not limited to General Electric Ltd; ABB Ltd; Sony Inc; Toshiba Inc; Caterpillar Inc; JP Morgan Ltd; City Bank Ltd; Texas Instruments Ltd; Bank of America and City Bank among others.
The word sigma is a Greek word that means process variability (Krambia-Kapardis and Ioannou, 2011). It is also refers to a mathematical terms for random variable or standard deviation. In most cases, Sigma is employed to determine the amount of defects which are likely to occur in a given process either service, manufacturing or transactional. For instance, there is a 3 sigma process which is known to have a defect rate of approximately 6.7 percent (Murphree, 2011). This is considered less effective when compared to a six sigma which has less than 4 defects per million opportunities (0.004% defect rate). In other words, defects in a process should be avoided because it increases cost of repair, re-test, rework, scrap and etc. that can greatly affect the organizational bottom line and the Six Sigma process is put in place in order to pursue the fewest amount of defects possible. In order to have a clear understanding of the concept of Six Sigma, the following features are imperative:
In developing Six Sigma, a lot of emphases is placed on a data driven methodology, meaning Six Sigma uses pre-existing data to