Lean Six Sigma Takes Root in Labs & Hospitals

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LAST WEEK, MORE THAN 300 ENTHUSIASTIC LAB AND HOSPITAL PROFESSIONALS from 11 different countries around the globe crowded into Atlanta for the Second Annual Lab Quality Confab. They were gathered to hear the latest success stories and breakthroughs in how laboratories and hospitals are using quality management methods like Lean and Six Sigma.

If anyone remains skeptical about the value of Lean and Six Sigma to improve outcomes and workflow in healthcare, more than 50 presentations and case studies by some of America’s first rank laboratories, hospitals, and health systems demonstrated the remarkable gains that well-executed process improvement projects generated for their organizations.

Evidently I am not alone in believing in the value of Lean and Six Sigma management methods to play a role in meeting the healthcare system’s challenges of improving quality, reducing errors, and lowering costs. The demand for experienced Lean and Six Sigma professionals to work in the nation’s hospitals and health systems is so great that management recruiters are struggling to find candidates to fill these positions. Healthcare magazines are writing stories about this staffing gap.

Our Editor, Robert Michel, tells me that this year’s speakers at Lab Quality Confab displayed much more sophistication as they discussed improvement projects in every area of clinical laboratory and pathology laboratory operations. I take that as an early warning for those laboratories and pathology groups which have yet to implement Lean and Six Sigma. The competitive bar is being raised by your peers and colleagues! Just as General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler found themselves outcompeted by Japanese car manufacturers (using these quality management methods) in the 1970s and 1980s, so also will those labs and hospitals who are slow to understand the power of Lean and Six Sigma to lift their performance—and their profits—find themselves at competitive disadvantage in the laboratory services marketplace.

Across the American healthcare system, the pace of change and reform seems to be intensifying. Adoption of Lean and Six Sigma by labs, hospitals, and health systems is playing a major role in this transformation. In coming weeks and months, THE DARK REPORT and Dark Daily will bring you “the best of Lab Quality Confab” so you and your management team can learn from these top-performing laboratories, hospitals, and health systems.

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