The accuracy and speed with which laboratory test results are produced are the basic tenets underpinning apt diagnostic decisions, correct medical interventions and enhanced patient safety. Consequently, laboratory delays and inconsistencies often hinder the delivery of effective and safe patient care. However, it is possible to reduce them by applying six‐sigma. Six-sigma are progressive improvement techniques that have gained global recognition for improving manufacturing and service processes. Progressively, these strategies are demonstrating their ability to also advance healthcare processes (Sanders & Karr, 2015). The purpose of this paper is to discuss the application of Six Sigma tools in the reduction of turnaround time (TAT) for hospital’s imaging and laboratory department.
White et al., (2015) conducted a study to examine the hypothesis that lean-based reorganization of laboratory process flow would improve laboratory turnaround times (TAT) and reduce waste in the system. The study revealed that indeed the lean-based reorganization of laboratory process flow significantly increased process efficiency. For example, they found that application of the lean sigma tools resulted in a reduction of urine sedimentation TAT by 88 minutes (117 to 29 minutes; 99% confidence interval, 87-90 minutes). The findings of their study are consistent with other studies such as (Sanders & Karr, 2015) and (Stapleton & Sammond, 2012) who found that application of the six-sigma in laboratory settings could greatly improve efficiency of operations and reduce the TAT.
Conclusively, application of six-sigma in a hospital’s imaging and laboratory department has the potential to increase efficiency and reduce the turnaround time. This is important as it allows for timely intervention as diagnosis of patient ailment is done in a quick and accurate manner resulting in improved patient safety and overall care quality.
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- Sanders, J. H., & Karr, T. (2015). Improving ED specimen TAT using lean six sigma. International journal of health care quality assurance, 28(5), 428-440.
- Stapleton, K., & Sammond, D. (2012). Improved laboratory stat test turnaround time using Lean six sigma. American Journal of Clinical Pathology, 138(suppl_2), A184-A184.
- White, B. A., Baron, J. M., Dighe, A. S., Camargo, C. A., & Brown, D. F. (2015). Applying Lean methodologies reduces ED laboratory turnaround times. The American journal of emergency medicine, 33(11), 1572-1576.