What is Lean Six Sigma in Healthcare?

Lean six sigma is a concept that is most closely associated with the manufacturing and warehousing industries. Due to its success there, however, it is also being adopted in many other areas, including healthcare. Understanding what lean six sigma is in healthcare, and how it works, will help you to get the best possible results.

Simply put, lean six sigma in healthcare is a system that uses data and metrics driven systems to reduce waste of all types. Specifically, this includes medical errors, defective processes, offering ineffective care, and more. The goal of lean six sigma is always to cut back on waste and reduce error rates within the industry where it is being used. In healthcare, this is especially important because reducing errors and waste will help patients receive better care.

A simple example of lean six sigma thinking in healthcare is the change that most hospitals have implemented for surgical procedures. Today, when someone is having a planned surgery on their foot, for example, both the surgeon and the patient will be asked to write something on the foot that is not being worked on. This is done prior to the surgery taking place. By implementing this simple procedure, hospitals have been able to virtually eliminate the mistake of having a surgeon work on the wrong limb, which could be catastrophic.


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