CEO SUMMARY: In more than 40 presentations by 55 speakers, two big themes dominated the 11th annual Lab Quality Confab in New Orleans last week. One theme is the urgent need to cut clinical laboratory costs. The second theme is the need for both clinical labs and anatomic pathology groups to deliver more value to
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Six Sigma, like Lean, is used to improve the quality and efficiency of operational processes. During the past decade, these process improvement techniques increasingly have been applied outside of the manufacturing sector, for example, in healthcare.
While Lean focuses on identifying ways to streamline processes and reduce waste, Six Sigma aims predominantly to make processes, such as those used in clinical laboratories and pathology group labs, more uniform and precise through the application of statistical methods.
Along with Lean, this process improvement technique has become popular with labs as a way to streamline laboratory processes, reduce costs, increase productivity, and improve quality in a time when labs are increasingly pressured by downward price trends for lab tests. At the same time, labs are able to increase value offered to “customers,” that is, patients.
The principles of a Six Sigma-based system were originally developed by Bill Smith of Motorola in 1986 as a way of eliminating defects in manufacturing, where a defect is understood to be a product or process that fails to meet customers’ expectations and requirements. The name refers to a quality level defined as the near-perfect defect rate of 3.4 defects per million opportunities. As a process improvement strategy, it gained much attention through its association with General Electric and its former CEO Jack Welsh.
Six Sigma also involves the training and certification of designated process specialists (called black belts, green belts, or other similar titles) within organizations to help guide Six Sigma improvement efforts. Other distinctive features include the expectation that process quality improvements be translated into financial metrics to assess value and the active involvement of top management in all initiatives.
Six Sigma is often combined with Lean management techniques to produce a methodology that relies on a collaborative team effort to improve performance by systematically removing waste (Lean) as well as defects, overproduction, waiting, non-utilized talent, transportation, inventory, motion and extra-processing (Six Sigma).
FOR THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS, and particularly since Congress passed the Patient Access to Medicare Act in 2014, clinical labs have focused on controlling costs, as they should. After all, PAMA calls for steep cuts in what the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will pay clinical labs beginning Jan. 1, 2018. (See TDRs,
PAML of Spokane, Washington, was the subject of an unusual public disclosure recently made by Laboratory Corporation of America. The lab company sent a statement to the Spokane Journal of Business stating its plans to make PAML “its primary lab site in the western U.S. for workplace and toxicology testing.” The statement was made to the
EXPERTS OFTEN PROCLAIM THAT THE U.S. HEALTHCARE SYSTEM is slow to change and slow to adopt the management approaches, operational innovations, and new technologies that other industries use.
One example is adoption of the quality management techniques that W. Edwards Deming and the Japanese developed by the 1970s. Today, these are described as Lean, Six Sigma,
CEO SUMMARY: Being accredited to this internationally recognized standard for quality and competence communicates to clients and prospective clients that one of the nation’s largest clinical labs is committed to the highest standards of quality. Clients already knew about that commitment but now have definitive proof, ARUP said. Also, lab administrators believed that gaining accreditation
CEO SUMMARY: Before a redesign of phlebotomy workflow at Marshfield Clinic, patients might wait as long as an hour, particularly before noon when phlebotomists would see 75% of each day’s patients. After the redesign, the number of draw sites was reduced from five to two while handling an increase in daily patient volume from 700 to 855. Patient wait times fell
CEO SUMMARY: As healthcare transitions away from fee-for-service payment and adopts new models of reimbursement, every clinical lab will need to deliver more value with its lab testing services. At Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, the laboratory division has blazed a path of improving lab performance specifically to enable it to add value to
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Here’s a major accomplishment by the lab division of a nationally-recognized health system that has gone unreported until this DARK REPORT intelligence briefing. This article explains how using the quality management system of ISO 15189 and the Lean methodology in healthcare allow it to absorb shrinking lab budgets while improving quality, and, at the
Every lab organization should aspire to achieve the attributes of Level Four: Use Benchmarks to Achieve Best-in-Class because this is the level of performance where the lab is delivering optimal clinical value at highest quality and lowest cost. This is an effort in which the business skills of laboratory management come to the fore.
CEO SUMMARY : This fourth installment of this special series about the laboratory value pyramid introduces “Level Four: Use Benchmarks to Achieve Best-in-Class.” This is the highest level of the four level pyramid. When a lab organization performs at this level, it will be delivering substantial measurable value to all stakeholders and it will have the metrics to substantiate this value. At the same time, the performance of a level four lab can be validated by its use of recognized third-party benchmarks that show it is performing equal to the best labs in the United States and across the globe. It will also have customer survey data showing it meets and exceeds its customers’ expectations.