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How Six Sigma Methods Can Enhance Diagnostic Imaging

More and more places are starting to turn to Six Sigma in order to improve this care in hospitals and other medical and diagnostic centers. If there is a shortage of medical care for any reason, a med...

More and more places are starting to turn to Six Sigma in order to improve this care in hospitals and other medical and diagnostic centers. If there is a shortage of medical care for any reason, a medical center should consider some of the approaches involved in Six Sigma.

Major healthcare organizations operated under the concepts of Quality Control and Total Quality Management for many decades before looking to Six Sigma as an efficient solution. The aging populations in developed countries have put a major strain on healthcare systems, particularly in the areas of operational costs and customer satisfaction. The increasing cost of medical care and the rising number of patients who demand quality medical attention is a deep concern for health administrators everywhere.

Diagnostic imaging and radiology are two practice areas within healthcare that administrators often seek to improve in terms of delivery cycles. A fine-tuned diagnostic imaging system in a medical facility is essential to delivering holistic patient care. Some of the problems that radiology departments often run into include: overwhelming numbers of pending appointments, bottlenecks, unmanageable traffic, and staff members who are stretched too thin. The cumulative effects and incremental improvements of Six Sigma are tailor-made for diagnostic imaging, a process that can't be simply stopped for overhauling.

Applying Six Sigma approaches to the healthcare industry is essentially just like using the Hippocratic approach to garnering a bunch of data and making a medical diagnosis. There are five phases involved. These include defining the problem, doing measurements, analyzing the data, making improvements, and having some control. Each of these phases can easily be assimilated by healthcare professionals and managers. The concepts behind Six Sigma have been applied to major institutions in both the United States and in other developed countries.

An issue that is faced by many diagnostic imaging centers is that roughly 25 percent of the testing that is performed on patients is not even necessary. Doctors sometimes get caught up in ordering the same exams for practically every patient they see. This puts a big strain on radiology employees and exposes the patients to larger amounts of radiation, which could have an effect on their health. This used to be a major issue at the Department of Human Services in the state of Minnesota. This department currently uses software that helps healthcare professionals make the decisions on whether diagnostic imaging testing is required or not. In order to make this determinationFree Web Content, the software produces a score that gives the doctor an idea of what should be done next for the patient.

Article Tags: Diagnostic Imaging

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