Healthcare RFID: St. John Health pursues near perfection with launch of Six Sigma
As the saying goes, nobody’s perfect. St. John Health (SJH) is taking bold steps to come very close to near perfection with the launch of Six Sigma, a management philosophy and process that employs rapid, evidence-based decision-making that pursues 99.99966% effectiveness. The central idea behind Six Sigma is that if you can measure how many “defects” you have in a process, you can systematically figure out how to eliminate them and get as close to “zero defects” as possible.
St. John Health is one of only a few health systems in the country to embark on the revolutionary process. Coached by experts from General Electric (GE) whose CEO Jack Welch championed the philosophy during his tenure as head of the company, St. John Health leaders and staff are embracing the process and tools to achieve sustainable and measurable change in improving patient care and performance.
Some of the key commitments St. John Health has made in adopting Six Sigma
· Pursuit of perfection in patient care delivery
· Measuring everything that is done
· Tying together cost, quality and service – committing to all of these, every time
· The customer (patient) dictates quality
· Senior management is intimately involved in the quality of care and its improvement
· Six Sigma permeates everything that is done, from one-on-one discussions with employees to building new facilities
“Our vision is to be the preferred healthcare provider in southeast Michigan by consistently providing the highest quality patient care experience in all that we do,” says Elliot Joseph, president and CEO of St. John Health. “We are investing significant financial and human resources in Six Sigma to achieve our vision,” he says.
James Tucci, MD, chief medical officer for St. John Health and a key member of the Six Sigma project team says Six Sigma, which has been used with great success in other industries, is based on a scientific process of decision-making that is driven by data, not guesses or anecdotes. “The Six Sigma process improvement relies on hearing the voice of the customer to first understand the customer’s “critical to quality” (CTQ) expectations. This is being done through customer telephone and written surveys, interviews, and observation,” he says. “ For example, we know that on average hospitals across the country take up to nine hours for a patient to be seen from the triage area where they are evaluated to admission to the hospital,” says Dr. Tucci. “A critical part of Six Sigma is to ask our customers their expectations for a particular process. If the customer says that the time should take no more than six hours, our goal and process for achieving success will be six hours,” he adds.
Dr. Tucci says Six Sigma methodology teaches that the most effective way to improve complex processes is to accurately focus on one aspect of the problem where there is the greatest opportunity for improvement. To that end, St. John Health is launching four projects at Providence Hospital and Medical Center and St. John Hospital and Medical Center to reduce average wait times and to decrease variation in wait times for the emergency departments, operating room and patient discharge.
During the next fiscal year the remaining St. John Health Hospitals will identify people trained as facilitators to lead process improvements. “Six Sigma will be the way we work at St. John Health, not an add-on to existing work. The process will allow us to establish a consistent, disciplined approach to process improvement across our health system which will increase speed and confidence in decision making and provide the highest quality patient care experience for our customers,” says Joseph.
St. John Health is comprised of eight hospitals plus more than 100 medical facilities. Its history of serving the Detroit area dates back to 1844. Every year at St. John Health, we touch thousands of lives in southeast Michigan through dozens of services in and out of the hospital setting. Our services include heart, cancer, physical rehabilitation, behavioral medicine, surgery, emergency and urgent care. More than 10,000 babies are born at St. John hospitals each year! We also operate nursing homes and senior residences. St. John Home Services serves thousands of patients each year in their own homes.
St. John Health's size means we have a stronger voice when advocating for those who have no voice -- the uninsured and poor. Through partnerships, coalitions, and program development and support, our innovative programs increase access to health care services and empower individuals to make informed health choices. Our community health programs include parish nursing, school-based health centers, a grieving children's program, literacy program and infant mortality initiative. We improve access to health care through our community health centers, health screenings and health education. In addition, St. John Health provided more than $100 million in uncompensated care in the past year.
It is our calling to serve, and we do it with pride. Our staff of professionals combines the skills of medical experts in more than 50 specialties and the talented, compassionate clinical staff to heal, to serve, together.
In addition, the St. John Health family includes thousands of volunteers and donors who support our health care mission with their generosity.
Labels: approach, critical-to-quality, ctq, hospital, project, rfid, speed, variation