Lean Six Sigma is a combination of two quality improvement concepts. Lean focuses on eliminating waste and improving work flow, while Six Sigma focuses on eliminating unnecessary variation. Combined together, LSS encourages sustainable, long-lasting improvements without forcing organizations to choose between quality and financial savings. LSS projects often result in positive financial impact as well as improving quality. Projects focus on data and establishing measurement systems to define success and provide a way to track future performance.
LSS uses a five-phased approach for finding permanent solutions to difficult business problems. The phases are: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control (DMAIC). By following the DMAIC road map, difficult problems are solved in a way that ensures long-lasting sustainability.
To enhance the life, health, and safety of our community, RiverStone Health uses Lean Six Sigma for process improvement.
Since 2013, Organizational Innovation, RiverStone Health’s LSS program, has used LSS methods and tools to find creative ways to optimize value and service.
- Improve our patient/customer’s experience
- Improve the working environment for our staff
- Optimize our available resources
LSS relies on the martial arts system of “belts” to describe levels of training and competence. Our Organizational Innovation structure includes two full-time Black Belts as well as staff members who devote part of their time to LSS projects and have varying levels of training. With the support of Black Belts, staff members who are trained in LSS identify waste within their work area. Waste is defined as anything that does not add value for our customers. Waste includes steps that do not change the information or product; are not done right the first time; or things the customer does not care about or is not willing to pay for.
- Support the mission, vision and values of RiverStone Health
- Improve services to our patients and clients or benefit our staff
- Have the potential of creating a positive financial impact for the organization.
Organizational Innovation Successes
Project: Increasing the number of uninsured/low income women & men receiving cancer screening
Based on FY 2014 outcomes, the Montana Cancer Screening Program at RiverStone Health fell short of meeting its goal of screening 925 people for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers during the designated grant year. Using LSS methods, the team gathered data to determine a baseline, complete process mapping and use tools to understand where sources of waste existed. Then they worked to improve the process. Since the project’s completion, the cancer screening program has been on track to exceed screening goals.
Project: Decreasing first-year turnover
First year staff turnover is very expensive for healthcare organizations. Costs range from $10,000 to $20,000 for each first-year employee who leaves an organization. Understanding the impact of first-year turnover, RiverStone Health Hospice Services wanted to improve the orientation process and improve mentoring of new staff members. The team defined the problem by using focus groups. They measured and analyzed the data, and implemented creative ideas to improve staff retention. Within one year of the project’s implementation, first-year turnover for Hospice Services decreased by 80 percent. The success has been sustained for two years since the completion of the project.