IHA case studies

Applying Lean Six Sigma Methodologies Reduces Lead Time for Scheduled Outpatient Procedures


The goal was to reduce the delay in patient care by reducing patient wait times, both from requested to scheduled time and at time of procedure. Process defects were identified as procedures in medical imaging that start greater than seven minutes after a scheduled start time, and a scheduled wait time for biopsy procedures in Medical Imaging of greater than five days. Key improvements include (1) Assignment of nursing and radiologists' resources to procedures in the scheduling system; (2) Removal of double bookings between CT and Ultrasound biopsies; and (3) System check of available rooms, nurses, and radiologists when scheduling a procedure in medical imaging. Days out for biopsy procedures in medical imaging were reduced from an average of 12 days to 1.5 days, representing an 87.5 percent reduction in wait times from requested to scheduled procedure. Delayed start times for procedure scheduled versus start time were reduced from 42.71 minutes on average (Apr13-Feb14) to 32.69 minutes late (Mar14-Apr14), a 23.4 percent reduction in wait time.

This case study is part of the Illinois Hospital Association's annual quality awards. Each year, IHA recognizes and celebrates the achievements of Illinois hospitals in continually improving and transforming health care in the state.  These hospitals are improving health by striving to achieve the Triple Aim--improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction); improving the health of populations; and reducing the per capita cost of health care.

Award recipients achieve measurable and meaningful progress in providing care that is:

  • Safe
  • Timely
  • Effective
  • Efficient
  • Equitable
  • Patient-centered

(The Institute of Medicine's six aims for improvement.)

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