Examples of Lean Six Sigma successes
A kaizen in sterile processing decreased instrument turnaround time
Akron Children's Lean Six Sigma projects deliver concrete, measurable value. Here are some examples of our projects and their benefits:
- Avoid unnecessary expenses. By reconfiguring its layout and work processes, the hospital's sterile processing department averted a proposed $3.5 million expansion, while improving surgical instrument turnaround time and enhancing the work environment.
- Reduce overtime. Since it identified and eliminated wasteful practices, the hospital's cytogenetics lab cut overtime from more than 55 hours a week to just 9, producing annual savings of about $93,000 while reducing turnaround time.
- Achieve cost savings. With a 38 percent reduction in storage areas, Akron Children's Beeghly campus in Boardman, Ohio, freed up space to create an exercise room for employees and a dietary counseling room for patient families. The project saved more than half a million dollars, while boosting staff and patient satisfaction.
- Shorten wait times. Akron Children's radiology department cut MRI wait time by 90 percent - from 25 days to within 2 - by obtaining insurance authorization earlier, streamlining scheduling, and improving coordination between radiology staff and the doctors who sedate children undergoing MRIs. The hospital can now perform more than 112 MRIs a week, up from the previous high of 84, helping to boost revenue. This lean project received an honorary mention award from the International Quality and Productivity Center in the category of "Best Process Improvement Project Under 90 Days."
- Speed up patient care. Using Lean Six Sigma processes, the ER decreased the time it takes to locate airway supplies by 63 percent, thanks to a new mobile unit equipped with all needed supplies. By reducing the search time for supplies, staff can more quickly respond to the changing needs of critical patients.
- Improve accuracy. Since burn treatments are often weight-based, it's important to accurately weigh patients. To reduce risks, a lean program identified and resolved variables that could lead to inaccuracies in weighing burn patients.
A Green Belt project in the cytogenetics lab improved the lab's work environment
- See patients more quickly. Before implementing a Lean Six Sigma program, 56-85 percent of foster care patients were seen within 72 hours of notification. Standard work instructions and information cards boosted the rate to 100 percent. In addition, access time to appointments for Children's Services Board clients dropped from nearly 4 days to 1.6 days, which means patients spend 687 less days waiting for appointments.
- Reduce surgical patient wait time. Although demand for surgeries has increased, Akron Children's OR space was limited and room utilization was 64 percent - well below the best practice standard of 80 percent. By implementing a continuous improvement method called kaizen, the perioperative services staff increased emergency surgery time by 137 percent (from 61 hours to 145) and decreased patient wait time by 30 minutes. Process improvement also reduced the number of times a patient was moved from 8 to 3.
- Lower appointment cancellations/no-shows. Despite efforts to improve missed appointments, Akron Children's rehab department could not lower its cancel/no-show rate below 20 percent, impacting patient outcomes, staff satisfaction and profitability. By developing standard work instructions, new communications and attendance policies for patients, the rate is now 15 percent, resulting in a boost to annual revenue of $104,366.