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If You Have a Process

The world is full of processes. If you are ever going to do something more than once, make it into a process. There are processes such as Emergency Room admittance, surgery set up and Claims process.  The process standardizes the way activities are performed. When the process was first designed the individual or group that designed it did their best. In fact, the first process design may have been envisioned without a precursor.

Since a process was first designed the world has changed and best practices change. Additionally individuals executing the process have added variation through their own small improvements. It could be that the original documentation has been lost and the current adherence to the standard might be through a long term game of telephone.

Process Risks

Any of the above-mentioned deviations to a standard process leave hospitals at risk. There can certainly be life-threatening risks but there are also risks that apply to business such as an impact to profitability.  Lean Six Sigma focuses, not just on the processes, but the system the processes exist in. The real improvement benefit comes from improving the system.

Lean Six Sigma Process Improvement

Lean Six Sigma has process improvement steps it goes through:

  1. Define Value – This may seem obvious or maybe not but you cannot move forward without knowing what is valuable.
  2. Map the Value Stream – The Value Stream represents a system. An example for a surgery may start with the patient given pre-operation instructions. It may end with the patient walking out of the hospital. The Value Stream captures each process within those boundaries and important metrics about the process such as time in process, value added within that process, defects within that process. This gives you the opportunity for Profound Knowledge of that system.
  3. Flow – This represents the optimal goal. Flow refers to a smooth transition through the process.
  4. Pull – Where Flow is not possible, then setting up a system that Pulls is the next best thing.
  5. Perfection – This is the never ending continual quest for the perfect Value Stream. This requires constant thought and engagement of all those that have an effect on the Value Stream.

How Lean Six Sigma improves processes:

How Hospitals can improve:

Lean Six Sigma looks at a process as containing value added activities and non-value added activities. Non-value added activities are the activities that a patient or customer would not pay for. A following blog expands on this..

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