Lean Six Sigma Can Cut Wait Times in the ER

At MedSpeed we benefit from Lean Six Sigma (LSS). Lean Management is the ongoing effort to eliminate or reduce ‘waste’ and Six Sigma is a disciplined, data-driven method for eliminating defects in any process.

Early on, we adopted LSS as an integral part of our quality management system because the lean philosophy allows us to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. Implementing LSS means we are able to create more value for customers with fewer resources.

And while the methods of LSS were originally developed within the context of manufacturing, they have been successfully applied to other industries, as we know from personal experience. A study earlier this year conducted by Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, looked at whether wait times in hospital emergency rooms/departments could be cut if hospitals utilized Lean Management and Six Sigma techniques.

Researchers examined whether LSS could reduce the time it takes to assess and stabilize patients in the emergency department (ED) and additionally, whether LSS could increase the flow of patients through the hospital, from admission through discharge, without increasing staff workload.

The study found that the LSS approach can help improve patient flow from the emergency department to hospital beds. Implementation also allowed the hospital that was studied to open more beds and install new software for monitoring bed availability.

Researchers cautioned that in order to implement successful innovations such as LSS, hospitals should have sufficient resources and a well-planned implementation process involving key stakeholders, including leadership and front line staff.

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