In the healthcare world, defects can be a matter of life and death. That’s why Six Sigma methodologies have been quickly gaining the attention of healthcare executives.
What Is Six Sigma?
In a nutshell, Six Sigma is a statistical representation that describes quantitatively how a process is performing. It was first used by Motorola for manufacturing and has since spread to almost every other industry. The goal of Six Sigma is to streamline business processes by eradicating defects and waste, thereby improving operational quality and efficiency. To achieve Six Sigma, a process must not produce more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities.
Similar to Six Sigma, the Lean approach focuses on process improvement, but with a stronger emphasis on attacking waste. According to Lean standards, any activity or step in a business process that does not add direct value to the end user must be removed or reformed.
To better reduce waste and improve the quality of patient care, many healthcare providers have adopted a hybrid approach called Lean Six Sigma. Lean Six Sigma combines the best of both Six Sigma and Lean by accelerating problem-solving and improving processes faster and more efficiently than the two methodologies alone. Implementing Lean Six Sigma principles in a healthcare setting not only makes medical procedures more streamlined and less costly but can vastly improve the quality of patient care.
The Benefits of Lean Six Sigma in Healthcare
Most healthcare providers define a defect as anything that could affect patient satisfaction. These defects could be anything from long wait times, ineffective treatments, errors in patient billing, or even mistakes made by clinicians incorrectly reading a detail in a patient’s chart.
Unlike Six Sigma’s roots in manufacturing, defects in patient care can have devastating results that may ultimately end in harm to the patient or in malpractice lawsuits.
So how can your health system take advantage of these principles to reduce costs while improving the quality of patient care? Let’s start with the basics – eliminating errors in electronic health records (EHR).
Eradicating Defects in Your Operational Processes
While the push to digitize all health information has resulted in most patient data being integrated into a centralized location like your EHR system, many aspects of those patient records are still stuck in non-structured and hard-to-manage formats separate from the rest of a patient’s ePHI (electronic patient health information). This separation of critical patient data often leads to defects in healthcare processes and ultimately the quality of the care that they receive.
Implementing a health information document capture and data classification solution is the easiest way to ensure that all important patient information is not only in one place and available to clinicians when needed, but that the information is accurate and correctly classified.
When choosing a solution, it’s important to keep in mind both of these requirements:
- Can it help you achieve Lean Six Sigma standards? That means it needs at least a 99.5% guaranteed accuracy rating to ensure there are no more than 3.4 errors per million opportunities.
- Can it maintain the highest level of accuracy while still maintaining HIPAA/HITECH compliance? You’re going to want to look for a company with certain levels of security certifications such as ISO and SOC2.
Taking the steps to achieve Lean Six Sigma certification isn’t easy, so it’s important that your health system document and data capture solution partner with industry experts that understand the importance of not only providing quick turnaround times but the highest of quality to eliminate defects in the EHR.