Baptist St. Anthony’s Hospital in Amarillo, USA started with some operational improvements using Six Sigma tools. The goal was to increase the productivity of the Specials Radiology Department by improving start times, increasing throughput, applying control mechanisms and by providing valuable feedback to adjuvant departments regarding the performance.
The team initiated the process by studying and identifying the defects, both inside and outside the department. Six Sigma tools such as the Pareto charts helped prioritize the defects, for immediate attention. Process maps were drawn out to understand the value added procedures and mitigate the non-value added ones.
Once the defect areas were visible, operational improvements were built in. The laboratory turnaround time was effectively improved by normally distributing the bulk of the requests. Patients were educated to follow the procedures such as the NPO order, to eliminate delays. Also, the physician ordering process was automated to improve communication, and keep the entire system updated.
Use of Six Sigma tools to bring about operational excellence proved to be a successful endeavor. Delayed cases improved by 46%, delays within departments saw an improvement of 22%, and the hospital saw a great deal of enhancement with the missing orders or clarified area, which eventually affected 90,000 orders every year.
While back-end fixing is a quick fix, it is always beneficial to study and fix the defects at the very first opportunity. Using data-driven tools, the hospital was able to foster better teamwork, which ultimately resulted in customer satisfaction, and stakeholder delight.