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J Healthc Inf Manag. 2005 Winter;19(1):39-44.

Lean sigma--will it work for healthcare?

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Health Management and Policy Department, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, USA.


The manufacturing industry has been using Lean Sigma for years in pursuit of continuous improvement to obtain a competitive advantage. The objectives of these efforts are to use the Lean techniques for reducing cycle times and the Six Sigma concepts for reducing product defects. The Iowa Business Council with several advocates worked with the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics (UIHC) and two other Iowa hospitals to determine whether Lean Sigma is adaptable in healthcare. A team of 15 people at UIHC used the Kaizen Breakthrough Methodology over a five-day period in an aggressive identification and elimination of non-value added activities in Radiology CT scanning. The results exceeded the initial project objectives and indicated that Lean Sigma is applicable in healthcare. Overall, the Lean Sigma project increased revenue by approximately $750,000 per year. The Kaizen process proved to be successful and interesting. Within three days, the team installed new work flow processes. This implementation-oriented approach is what differentiates Lean Sigma from other quality improvement processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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