Contact Us
TempDev’s Glossary
Back to our glossary

Glossary Terms

What is Lean Six Sigma?

What is Lean Six Sigma?

Lean Six Sigma combines Six Sigma methods with the lean enterprise philosophy to create a managerial approach that conserves resources and improves team focus. The central idea of Lean Six Sigma is that consuming resources without generating value for the organization or end customer is wasteful. 

Reducing Waste in Healthcare 

Adopting a Lean Six Sigma approach means identifying inefficient processes and either reducing or eliminating them. In particular, Lean Six Sigma focuses on eight kinds of waste: Defects, Overproduction, Waiting, Non-utilized talent, Transportation, Inventory, Motion, and Extra-processing ("DOWNTIME"). Lean Six Sigma provides a systematic way of approaching these types of waste in five phases.  

When applied to healthcare settings, the eight wastes of Lean Six Sigma center on:

  1. Reducing waiting and idle time for patients and providers.

  2. Minimizing inventory, such as the storage of medical supplies, pre-printed forms, unnecessary equipment, and superfluous data.

  3. Eliminating defects that result in misdiagnoses, system failures, and delayed medical care.

  4. Decreasing the movement of patients, supplies, and providers to improve the flow of service delivery.

  5. Reducing motion to prevent injuries and save time, like reducing how often providers must stoop or reach to access supplies.

  6. Minimizing overproduction to maximize resources, like improving processes so medication isn't prepared for discharged patients or that tests aren't duplicated across healthcare providers.

  7. Reducing over-processing — such as redundant forms, tests, and data — to remove waste.

  8. Understanding how healthcare waste reduces the availability of human potential and finding ways to improve employees' efficiency, educational pursuits, and human-centric service delivery.

The Phases of Lean Six Sigma

Lean Six Sigma involves five phases: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control ("DMAIC"). These phases are effective in helping to identify and improve process problems when the root cause is unknown. 

  1. Define: Define the problem that is being experienced from the perspective of the company, stakeholders, and customers. Quality criteria should be established to define what is expected or preferred. 

  2. Measure: Examine current processes and consider how they contribute to the problem. Determine if the process can be revised to meet quality criteria. Utilize actual data to support performance measurements. 

  3. Analyze: Review all information gathered to finalize the nature of the problem, its scope, and its cause. 

  4. Improve: Structure a solution that eliminates the problem and its cause. Test the solution and utilize performance data to track improvement.  

  5. Control: Monitor improvement and continue to improve where feasible. Finalize acceptable performance. Establish a plan to sustain improvements and deal with variations or recurrences of the problem.

Lean Six Sigma Belt Levels

Belts are used to denote Lean Six Sigma expertise following training.

  • Belt Color: White

    • Specifications: Basic understanding of the meaning and goals of Lean Six Sigma, along with its terminology. 

    • Reports to: Green or Black Belts

  • Belt Color: Yellow

    • Specifications: Basic understanding of Lean Six Sigma concepts, tools, and techniques; capable of participating in project teams and can receive Just In Time (JIT) training. 

    • Reports to: Green or Black Belts

  • Belt Color: Green

    • Specifications: Hands-on experience with Lean Six Sigma strategy; capable of launching and managing projects using DMAIC and Lean principles; can provide JIT training to others.

    • Reports to: Black Belts

  • Belt Color: Black

    • Specifications: Advanced understanding of Lean Six Sigma; capable of being a full-time, cross-functional team leader, as well as a mentor to Green Belts. Responsible for implementing Lean Six Sigma changes. 

    • Reports to: Master Black Belts

  • Belt Color: Master Black

    • Specifications: Extensive experience overseeing Lean Six Sigma projects and leading the initiative; capable of mentoring all levels; collaborates closely with company leaders to identify gaps in efficiency and training.

    • Reports to: C-suite executives

How TempDev Can Help with Lean Six Sigma

TempDev's team of NextGen consultants, developers, and trainers can help you implement, switch, or even upgrade your current practice management and EHR system using the most efficient methodologies including Lean Six Sigma. From dashboards, templates, and reports to revenue cycle consulting, automation, and workflow redesign, TempDev offers the tools you need to make the most of your EHR or practice management system.

Contact us here or call us at 888.TEMP.DEV to get the help you need working with electronic health record systems and efficiency. 


Agree with our point of view? Become our client!

Please submit your business information and a TempDev representative will follow up with you within 24 hours.

Hello! I’m the assistant Twinkie.

If you want to know more about TempDev please fill in your contact information below.
We’ll make sure to reach back as quickly as possible.
Hello! I’m the assistant Twinkie. How can I help?