How DMAIC Helps Hospitals Improve Patient Care
Six Sigma has benefits that make it an essential process improvement methodology no matter the industry. However, the origins and popularity of Six Sigma are in the manufacturing industry. For instance, it has seen tremendous success in adding value to production processes, leading to a quality output that not only increases customer satisfaction but the organization’s bottom line as well.
Anything that is Six Sigma-related can also have a similar impact on health systems like hospitals. Essentially, it can significantly improve patient care, which also improves customer satisfaction. Here are a few ways in which it can help with this through quality improvements. Six Sigma can:
- Make service delivery faster by reducing the number of times patients have to wait to be helped by a doctor
- Reduce errors made by nurses and other hospital staff, leading to better patient care.
- Allow patients to get their lab and other diagnostic results faster by minimizing the turnaround time
- Increase the rate at which insurance claims are processed for faster reimbursements.
- Make the hospital’s services appealing to customers by making sure that the customer’s voice is a major factor when formulating healthcare services
- Provide patients with their medical records, as well as other pertinent health information much faster
DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve and control) is what can play an integral role in helping hospitals realize the above-mentioned benefits through Six Sigma. Here’s a general overview of how it can be used in a hospital setting to improve patient care.
How Hospitals Can Utilize the DMAIC Methodology
One must keep in mind that quality improvement comes after solving significant problems within the system set in place. For that, the DMAIC method is the most used, highly-structured and data-driven approach for identifying and eliminating problems.
Let’s look at each one of the phases in the hospital context:
- Define: Patients are identified, along with what they want and need. On top of that, everything identified is defined in a clear and concise manner, along with the process’ end goals and capabilities
- Measure: How good is the current level of healthcare? This needs to be measured to get an accurate picture of what needs improving. A number of key permanence indicators (KPIs) can be used here, such as staff-to-patient ratio, patient wait time and patient satisfaction levels.
- Analyze: After the Measure phase, there will be data that needs to be analyzed using Six Sigma’s tools. To get an accurate picture of the problem that is affecting the quality, the team might have to utilize advanced statistical methods.
- Improve: This is where the patient care process goes through a number of changes to make it better. At this phase, it is crucial to make sure progress is tracked so that data is available to inform the team on whether the changes made are effective or not.
- Control: At this stage, the improvements made will be standardized. The team will create standard operating procedures, which may include protocols and policies, that will guide future patient care improvement efforts and ensure that the improvements made so far do not get undone overtime.
Six Sigma can make a huge and positive impact on hospitals, as far as improving patient care goes. And as more patients become satisfied, the hospital can get more patients and increase its bottom line. With the DMAIC method at the hospital’s disposal, improvement is more than likely.