Process Improvement in Healthcare

Ken Haglind

November 7, 2022

Improvement in Healthcare

Improvement in Healthcare measures are an essential part of health care quality. They provide information to patients and their families about the medical care they receive and help to improve health outcomes. Process measures include surgical mortality rates, surgical complications, and hospital-acquired infections. These measures are also used to assess hospital performance and improve patient care.

Lean Six Sigma-Improvement in Healthcare

Lean Six Sigma techniques in healthcare have proven highly beneficial to hospitals. These techniques can help to decrease medical errors and shorten patient wait times. They can also improve the turnaround time for crucial lab results and prevent falls and injuries. The Institute of Medicine estimates that over 19 billion dollars are wasted annually due to medical mistakes.

Lean healthcare emphasizes interdisciplinary teams and a patient focus. Decisions are based on data and processes and focused on patient expectations and needs. Patient-focused methods include ensuring that equipment is readily available and that patient data is easily accessible.

Continuous process improvement

Healthcare organizations can benefit from adopting a process-improvement mindset to achieve operational excellence. The philosophy encourages frontline personnel to discover the fundamental causes of system problems and improve their performance by making improvements where they can make a difference. This improvement method can help enhance the quality of care and safety and can be supported by specialized training.

A good process improvement program begins with a goal and a process-mapping approach. The goals should be achievable and provide employees with a sense of accomplishment. This is important because it makes it easier to sustain the process improvement over time. Employees may be tempted to revert to their old habits if goals are too simple to achieve. In addition, if the changes are too complex or take too long, employees may lose motivation and resist future process improvement efforts.

Lean Auditing

Lean Auditing is a method for improving a business process. It looks at how an organization manages its resources to meet its objectives and make it more effective. The method includes defining goals, planning, resourcing, measuring, controlling, and correcting. It evaluates how well the organization uses these tools and techniques for performance management, which helps ensure compliance with regulatory requirements, safety, and desired results. The process also involves cross-functional interactions and performance reviews.

Healthcare internal auditors can observe processes to see the issues firsthand when conducting an internal audit. In the lean philosophy, this practice is called “Gemba,” or “go to the real place.” In the healthcare setting, gamma refers to the workplace where clinicians have direct contact with patients.


In healthcare, organizations can implement PDSA as part of their process improvement. The process allows organizations to identify opportunities and eliminate waste. It works by setting up small experiments to test ideas, which can lead to progress. In this way, organizations can improve service delivery by identifying improvements and making adjustments.

PDSA can be used to improve processes on a small or large scale. The key to this approach is to test different alternative approaches and implement whichever has the highest chance of improving the process. This methodology is reminiscent of the traditional scientific experimental method, which healthcare professionals are already familiar with.

Training-Improvement in Healthcare

On-the-job training in healthcare is a critical component of this process. Healthcare professionals should be given opportunities to observe on-the-job performance and receive personalized feedback. The training process should also be time-efficient and involve customized learning objectives. Automated schedules and checklists can make this process more accessible, and incentives for learning can ensure learners receive relevant and actionable feedback.

Practical training is essential to ensure that healthcare employees are updated with new technology and best practices. It strengthens existing skills and helps them improve in areas they need more help with. A good training program will identify areas for improvement, build confidence, and promote cooperation and creativity.


One way to attract and engage the best employees is by establishing a good onboarding process. Healthcare professionals can be very selective about where they work, and it is essential to give them a sense of what to expect. Additionally, a good onboarding process can help healthcare organizations become more collaborative.

An efficient onboarding process should begin as early as possible. The earlier an employee starts their new position; the more time is available for the organization to create a successful onboarding process. It should also involve the entire organization. Departments should break down silos and work together to streamline the process, improving efficiency and saving valuable resources.