Sunday, November 11, 2012

Five Phases of Six Sigma process

Lean and six sigma process consists of five phages described by DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control).


This process involves determining who uses the service or products. E.g. physicians, what are the user’s requirements and expectations? E.g. emergency department will require fast turnaround time, what are the project boundaries? This might involve establishing who might be involved in this project and what are the areas covered. E.g. phlebotomy to draw the specimen. By the end of define phase, both the project team and management have validated the project plans and policies; this means that the team will have defined the overall purpose and potential impact of project, the scope of the project, its resources (who is in the team and how much money is available to implement changes), and expectations-what will be delivered and when.


The performance of process in laboratory can be measured by

Collecting data – in lab, this might involve determining how long it takes to report the results, what is the turnaround time, etc.

Determine defects – For e.g. this might include determining how often specimens are collected in wrong tube, how much is the delay in receiving specimen, random and systematic errors, etc.

Satisfaction of user – this might involve determining if the needs of physicians or other users are being met.

In this phase the teams measures, and assesses the baseline process. E.g. if the goal was to improve the time it takes phlebotomist to get specimens from hospital inpatient population to the laboratory then the measure phase would consist measuring the time it is taking and assessing which step is defective. The measure phase allows the team to measure the severity of the problem. This also measures the bias and errors in laboratory results and methods.


Examine the data collected during measure phase, regarding error in the process during the measure phase. In this phase the team verifies the root cause of problem using different QC programs and data analysis. The details of the process whether they are running according to the guideline or given criteria are also analyzed and verified.


Improve the process by creative solutions to fix problems and prevent future ones from occurring. At the end of this phase, a team must demonstrate that a process change has been implemented that address the error found in the analyze phase and solves the problem evaluated in the measure phase.


This may include continuous monitoring of the new plans. This phase ensures that the quality is maintained by QC mechanisms. For this the QC charts can be used, specimen collection and delivery should be monitored so that there is no delay in delivery, collection of sample according to the guideline should be monitored, etc. Proper functioning of instrument should be assured.
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