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The Crossroads - Lean Six Sigma and Design Thinking Part II
By  Arnold Cesar A. Abaya|Sep 01, 2017|

Design thinking and six sigma

As mentioned in our previous post, Design Thinking and Six Sigma can be used simultaneously for operational efficiency and success of any company. In this article, we will outline a possible application of both approaches to give you an idea on how you can use them for your project.

Mike works in a healthcare provider company and is leading a lean six sigma initiative to improve the patient satisfaction rating. The out-patient satisfaction rating has been declining for the past six months and the patient turnout began to decline in the succeeding months.


Mike and his team of medical staff and administrators began by understanding the factors affecting the declining PSAT ratings through brainstorming activities and process mapping. The team also conducted two different questionnaire surveys for the patients and the health workers. After gathering a month of data and analysis, the team was able to 2 main factors:


  1. Medical Staff Satisfaction has a direct correlation with the Patient Satisfaction
  2. Reception Inefficiencies (including the examination room)


The root cause of declining Medical Staff satisfaction was later on determined due to operational issues such as availability of medical supplies and doctor-medical staff communication issues. The LSS team were able to improve these issues by improving supply management process and workflow process through hand-offs improvements between doctors and medical staffs.


The second factor was given to the Design Thinking team to focus on improving the patient experience. The team needed to understand the problems from the patient’s perspective and develop an empathy map for their patients. They team led to understand that patients really only wants to be provided with the necessary and quick health care service.  The team came up with different ideas to improve the efficiency of patient’s journey from the moment the patient enters the door to the time they exist.


The team were able to come up with a solution and started prototyping by creating a mock-up layout and even did a role play to get feedback from both the patients and the medical staff.   From the feedbacks they received, the team made minor improvements in their solutions.


The LSS team then further made sure the improvements of the two factors were sustainable by developing the metrics needed in each identified area and finally validated the impact of the solutions on the Patients Satisfaction rating.


The approaches of Lean Six Sigma and Design Thinking  are two very different cycles and different line of thinking: convergent and divergent, respectively. The former creating new products, service or even paradigms and is empathy driven and the latter making the process faster, better and cheaper and is data driven. Although the two are different, they are not mutually exclusive. Each feeding the other cycle,  to create new products or services and elevate further the customer satisfaction through operational excellence.

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