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Ochsner J. 2013 Fall;13(3):310-8.

Improving Immunization Rates Using Lean Six Sigma Processes: Alliance of Independent Academic Medical Centers National Initiative III Project.

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Wayne State University and Crittenton Hospital Medical Center, Rochester Hills, MI.



Quality improvement education and work in interdisciplinary teams is a healthcare priority. Healthcare systems are trying to meet core measures and provide excellent patient care, thus improving their Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems scores. Crittenton Hospital Medical Center in Rochester Hills, MI, aligned educational and clinical objectives, focusing on improving immunization rates against pneumonia and influenza prior to the rates being implemented as core measures. Improving immunization rates prevents infections, minimizes hospitalizations, and results in overall improved patient care. Teaching hospitals offer an effective way to work on clinical projects by bringing together the skill sets of residents, faculty, and hospital staff to achieve superior results.


WE DESIGNED AND IMPLEMENTED A STRUCTURED CURRICULUM IN WHICH INTERDISCIPLINARY TEAMS ACQUIRED KNOWLEDGE ON QUALITY IMPROVEMENT AND TEAMWORK, WHILE FOCUSING ON A SPECIFIC CLINICAL PROJECT: improving global immunization rates. We used the Lean Six Sigma process tools to quantify the initial process capability to immunize against pneumococcus and influenza.


The hospital's process to vaccinate against pneumonia overall was operating at a Z score of 3.13, and the influenza vaccination Z score was 2.53. However, the process to vaccinate high-risk patients against pneumonia operated at a Z score of 1.96. Improvement in immunization rates of high-risk patients became the focus of the project. After the implementation of solutions, the process to vaccinate high-risk patients against pneumonia operated at a Z score of 3.9 with a defects/million opportunities rate of 9,346 and a yield of 93.5%. Revisions to the adult assessment form fixed 80% of the problems identified.


This process improvement project was not only beneficial in terms of improved quality of patient care but was also a positive learning experience for the interdisciplinary team, particularly for the residents. The hospital has completed quality improvement projects in the past; however, this project was the first in which residents were actively involved. The didactic components and experiential learning were powerfully synergistic. This and similar projects can have far-reaching implications in terms of promoting patient health and improving the quality of care delivered by the healthcare systems and teaching hospitals.


Graduate medical education; immunization; influenza–human; patient care team; pneumococcal vaccines; quality improvement; vaccination


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