Comparison of Six Sigma and Lean Methods for Healthcare [ your name ] [ course name / number ] [Publish Date] Introduction Six sigma and lean techniques have gained popularity in recent decades for their value addition to existing processes and for improvements in areas that bolster output…
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The basic contention behind the implementation of either Six Sigma or lean techniques is to increase the output from existing processes and methods. It must be taken to note that Six Sigma applies more to bolstering output by removing causes behind defects through the implementation of measurement and statistical techniques (Tennant, 2001). On the other hand, lean techniques consist largely of methods that are aimed at improving processes by looking at existing loopholes and reacting accordingly (Taylor, 2008). Need for Lean Techniques and Six Sigma in the Healthcare Sector Lean techniques are not based in large part on quantification unlike Six Sigma that dwells on quantifying defects for their removal and noting process improvement levels. In recent years, both Six Sigma and lean techniques have been used increasingly in the healthcare sector to deal with existing and emerging challenges. The increasing cost of healthcare and visits to doctors have meant that it is required to optimize healthcare access costs through the application of Six Sigma and lean techniques. However, it must also be kept in mind that healthcare applications involve critical assessments that might end up with permanent damage to the patient’s health or might even result in a fatality (DelliFraine, Langabeer, & Nembhard, 2010). In such a case, the advantage of applying either Six Sigma or lean techniques is removed altogether as the customer is effectively permanently damaged or removed from the service list. On another note, it must be considered that the failure of Six Sigma or lean techniques in the manufacturing, services or other sectors may result in nothing more than another defect not involving loss to human beings. However, in the case of the healthcare industry, any failure of the Six Sigma or lean techniques regime could possibly lead to a human fatality which is not desirable. Therefore, the application of either Six Sigma or lean techniques requires differentiation between critical and non-critical applications in the healthcare sector. Requirements of Quality Management Philosophy in the Healthcare Sector The healthcare industry effectively requires a technique that is not harmful to the customers. In case that Six Sigma is applied to the healthcare industry, it would involve taking measurements as a vital method of producing baselines and quantifying output levels to see how processes have improved. As far as the manufacturing sector is concerned, Six Sigma is effective because the same manufacturing processes are being repeated to manufacture the end product. The continuous nature of the measurement ensures that Six Sigma can be applied across the board to the entire organization. Even if the services industry is considered, it becomes clear that similar end services are being provided to customers resulting in insightful measurements for Six Sigma improvements. However, the case of the healthcare sector is altogether different since any healthcare organization is servicing customers with multiple differentiated needs at the same time. For example, the same hospital could be dealing with emergency trauma patients as well as with cardiovascular disease patients. The wide range of processes required to satisfy the end customer do not favor Six Sigma for measurement in the healthcare sector (Taner & Sezen, 2007). Six Sigma In the case of the
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