Application of Six Sigma methodology to a diagnostic imaging process
Atwat, Kamal M.
Taner, Mehmet Tolga
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Purpose – This paper aims to apply the Six Sigma methodology to improve workflow by eliminating the causes of failure in the medical imaging department of a private Turkish hospital. Design/methodology/approach – Implementation of the design, measure, analyse, improve and control (DMAIC) improvement cycle, workflow chart, fishbone diagrams and Pareto charts were employed, together with rigorous data collection in the department. The identification of root causes of repeat sessions and delays was followed by failure, mode and effect analysis, hazard analysis and decision tree analysis. Findings – The most frequent causes of failure were malfunction of the RIS/PACS system and improper positioning of patients. Subsequent to extensive training of professionals, the sigma level was increased from 3.5 to 4.2. Research limitations/implications – The data were collected over only four months. Practical implications – Six Sigma’s data measurement and process improvement methodology is the impetus for health care organisations to rethink their workflow and reduce malpractice. It involves measuring, recording and reporting data on a regular basis. This enables the administration to monitor workflow continuously. Social implications – The improvements in the workflow under study, made by determining the failures and potential risks associated with radiologic care, will have a positive impact on society in terms of patient safety. Having eliminated repeat examinations, the risk of being exposed to more radiation was also minimised. Originality/value – This paper supports the need to apply Six Sigma and present an evaluation of the process in an imaging department.