lean six sigma

Lean Six Sigma (LSS), is an operational business strategy that will guide you to excellence by improving organizational efficiency, quality and all bottom-line value drivers.

The combination of Lean and Six Sigma were developed with a very specific goal in mind:

  • Lean is designed to focus entirely on eliminating waste and maximizing value to customers with the lowest possible amount of investment.

Resources that do not create value for the end customer is considered a waste and should be eliminated.

  • Six Sigma is designed to identify and reduce defects and streamline the variability in any production process.

Six Sigma is a disciplined, statistical-based, data-driven approach that drives continuous improvement by eliminating defects in a product, process or service.

Simply put, Lean Six Sigma is a focused approach that improves performance by eliminating the waste of physical resources, time, effort, and talent, while assuring quality improvement by eliminating defects and bottle neck in your targeted process.

Lean Six Sigma has expanded to all areas of the public business sector, even the health care industry, to improve operational efficiency, customer service, production, revenue generation, and cost reduction.

Lean Six Sigma first pioneered in the automotive manufacturing industry with the Ford Motor Company.

A Consumer-Driven Lean Six Sigma Automotive Company

The Ford Motor Company is one of the world’s, largest and most successful automakers, and the first automotive company to implement Lean Six Sigma into their business operations on a large scale.

The Ford Motor Company began using the Six Sigma strategy in the late nineties, with a goal to enhance customer satisfaction with the quality of their products, and become a total consumer focused products company, and not just another automobile manufacturer.

One of Ford’s major issues that had to address was a defect rate of over 20,000 defect opportunities in their car manufacturing process. By implementing LSS Ford achieved their continuous improvement goal by reducing their defect rate to one defect for every 14.8 vehicles, and thereby enhancing customer satisfaction.

Ford’s Consumer-driven Six Sigma has saved them over a billion dollars worldwide by completing almost 10,000 improvement projects since the early 2000s.  In addition, Ford also eliminated (Lean) more than $2.19 billion in waste over the last decade and a half.

The smallest process change can have a significant effect on your business’s bottom-line, establishing a mind-set to change other processes, and drive continuous improvement.

In the health care industry, there little room for error.  A simple mistake can impact hundreds of people and also lead to fatalities.

According to the journal of healthcare finance, medical errors cost the US over nineteen point five billion dollars in 2008. The Institute of Medicine in 1998 estimated that 98 thousand deaths could have been prevented that year due to medical errors. In 2008 that figure had ballooned to 200 thousand deaths a year, that’s five hundred and forty-eight deaths a day or 1 death almost every two minutes in the US alone [1].

Lean Six Sigma can go in a long way in reducing these devastating preventable deaths. A healthcare practitioner who understands how to use the tools and methodology to systematically resolve problems and improve the quality of care is well-positioned to become a highly valued asset to their organization [2].

Lean Six Sigma in healthcare can be used to improve nursing, treatments, hospital support, laboratory, technical and managerial services. Following are two of several Six Sigma healthcare examples to support this point

  1. The Stanford Hospital and Clinics applied Six Sigma to its coronary artery bypass graft operations process and was able to achieve a savings of $15 million every year. In addition, costs were brought down by 40% and mortality rates declined from 7.1% to 3.7%.
  1. The Charleston Area Medical Centre applied Six Sigma to its surgical supply chain management and was able to save $1 million. Similarly, Scottsdale Healthcare organization improved its emergency room process with Six Sigma. By so doing, it was able to reduce the time needed to transfer a patient to an inpatient hospital bed and increase profits annually by $1.6 million.

Since Lean Six Sigma has made a significant positive impact in the following areas of clinical medicine, including general medicine, cardiology, pulmonology, oncology, nephrology, gastroenterology, rheumatology, and diabetology there is no limit of its success in all other business sectors.

Conclusions: Efficiency and safety in health care are often crippled by medical errors and defects in healthcare. Implementing Lean Six Sigma in health care has reduced all of these errors to the barest minimum, leading to less morbidity and mortality.


[1] Andel C., Davidow S.L., Hollander M., Moreno D.A. The economics of health care quality and medical errors. J. Health Care Finan. 2012;39(1):39.

[2] Rathi R., Khanduja D., Sharma S.K. A fuzzy MADM approach for project selection: a Six Sigma case study. Decis. Sci. Lett. 2016;5(2):255–268.