Boston-Based Shields Healthcare Group Finds Six Sigma Key to Successful Operation

Boston-Based Shields Healthcare Group Finds Six Sigma Key to Successful Operation

By Discovery Lean Six Sigma

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For the past several years, new technology has been the focus of healthcare as an old industry looks for new ways to improve patient care and provide faster, more efficient services.

However, technology alone is not the answer. How that technology is applied can make the difference between a successful operation and one that struggles. To make the application of technology as efficient as possible, some in healthcare have turned to Six Sigma.

A case in point is Boston-based Shields Healthcare Group, which provides MRI, PET/CT and radiation oncology services at more than 30 hospitals in the New England area.

In a recent Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference in Orlando, Shields Chief Information Officer Chuck Spurr talked about how implementing Six Sigma proved to be a “change agent” for the company.

The Need For Process Improvement

Spurr spoke at a HIMSS conference forum called, “Driving Success With Collaboration and Six Sigma.” His talk focused on the idea that while new technology offers many improvements in healthcare, it also requires constant reevaluation of processes and a commitment to making them more efficient.

Shields turned to Six Sigma to accomplish that goal. The process improvement methodology provided Shields with the tools it needed to develop a system that gets various healthcare departments – each often working with their own software systems – to work together.

Six Sigma, started at Motorola in the 1980s, first focused primarily on manufacturing. But in the ensuing years, Six Sigma has been adopted by businesses across a wide variety of industries.

This has led to a growing number of people in business earning certification in Six Sigma and taking on a leadership role in improving a company’s operations.

Spurr himself is a Six Sigma Green Belt.

Key Elements of Six Sigma

In an interview conducted at the convention, Spurr talked about using Six Sigma for collaboration and the importance of communication overall.

“Six Sigma was our change agent,” Spurr said.

Communication is vital, he said, to ensure that software flows well across all systems within a company. A software product must be able to meet all the needs and answer all the questions of each different department, each of which may work with a system of their own.

Six Sigma has helped refine those processes, Spurr said, which can include issues such as cross-departmental communication and adding the right software “bolt on” to help individual systems work together.

He said Shield did not attempt to adopt every aspect of Six Sigma, but rather looked at areas that could immediately help the company’s performance.

Spurr said four key elements within Six Sigma proved vital. He said Six Sigma:

  • Tells you the direction a company is heading
  • Makes a company assess the current efficiency of its operation
  • Allows you to make quick changes
  • Allows you to develop methods for measuring success

“All wrapped around that is the data,” Spurr said. “You let the data drive you, which is a good thing when you are looking at a change agent.”

One of the keys for Shield was the Six Sigma methods of measuring success. As with other kinds of companies, all the data gathering and number-crunching changes nothing if there is no ability to measure the impact of changes.

“If the needle moves in the right direction, that’s awesome,” Spurr said. “If it doesn’t, that’s OK, too, because now you know what’s going on and you can react pretty quickly to it.”

The post Boston-Based Shields Healthcare Group Finds Six Sigma Key to Successful Operation appeared first on Six Sigma Daily.

By: James LoPresti
Posted: June 26, 2017, 2:03 pm

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