Six Sigma

While the main feature of Lean is to remove the waste from processes, Six Sigma attempts to reduce the number of defects or the error rate within a system. To have a Six Sigma level of error means attaining a defect rate of 1 x 10−6. Health care usually operates with a defect rate of 1 x 10−2. While health care practices may not be able to directly use Six Sigma without working with expertly trained Six Sigma facilitators, many of the approaches and tools used within the methodology may inform leaders in practice transformation.

DMAIC is a core component of the Six Sigma methodology and shares attributes with the PDSA methodology used within the IHI Change Model; it can also be used as a part of Lean.

DMAIC stands for the five parts of the process:

  • Define the problem, improvement activity, opportunity for improvement, the project goals, and customer (internal and external) requirements.
  • Measure process performance.
  • Analyze the process to determine root causes of variation and poor performance (defects).
  • Improve process performance by addressing and eliminating the root causes.
  • Control the improved process and future process performance.

The DMAIC process easily lends itself to the project approach to quality improvement.