Lean Six Sigma gives employees a voice for changes

Lean Six Sigma isn't just good for the wallet; it's good for morale, according to hospitals going through the process. While Lean Six Sigma advocates hail the strategy as cost-effective and efficient, other supporters also praise its effects on employee satisfaction and buy-in.

"It's an avenue to have a voice and make change," Brandee Hahn, a financial analyst and reimbursement manager at Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes, Ind., told Hospitals & Health Networks. Hahn is one of three people in the hospital's Lean Six Sigma department, launched earlier this month.

Good Samaritan Hospital and Vincennes University collaborated to provide Lean training all 1,700 hospital employees, ranging from executive leaders to the cafeteria staff, to the yellow belt level, with others moving on to green and black belts, H&HN noted.

Hahn said she was worried it might just another flavor-of-the-month, but the additional training made it all real, suggesting a commitment from the hospital.

According to Chief Financial Officer Jerry Stump, patient safety, quality, patient satisfaction and financial performance goals using Lean Six Sigma are part of the organization's strategic plan.

In another example, Rhode Island Hospital cited better employee morale and job satisfaction after implementing the Six Sigma methodology to improve the efficiency of frontline staff and streamline operating room patient flow, reduce workflow stress and eliminate waste, according to a study in the July AORN Journal from the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses.

"The implementation of the Six Sigma project at our hospital resulted in an improvement in the discharge process and ensured our ability to sustain a seamless surgical patient flow without incurring a financial cost," the authors said in a statement.

Other literature suggests there is a link between Lean initiatives and staff involvement. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, in the first independent comparative study of 13 Lean projects, staff at all levels reported higher employee satisfaction at every institution, citing better front-line staff involvement in problem-solving and employee collaboration.

For more information:
- read the H&HN column
- check out the AORN Journal study abstract
- here's the AORN research announcement

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