AJIBM  Vol.8 No.2 , February 2018
Improving Healthcare Referral System Using Lean Six Sigma
Abstract: The World Health Organization considers the referral system, begun in 1978, to be one of the primary components of any medical system. Referral is the procedure of directing a patient to an appropriate specialist or agency. This research uses King Abdullah Medical City in Makkah, Saudi Arabia as a case study to explore using Lean Six Sigma as a way to improve healthcare referral system. King Abdullah Medical City received 16,807 referral requests in 2015, a 13.6% increase compared with 2014. Over time, the process of referral unwieldy, making the process less efficient and effective. By addressing the application of Lean principles and Six Sigma methodology to improve the referral process, this study reveals implications for their use in the healthcare industry. Then DMAIC methodology was utilized to decrease the delay in physicians’ response time to the referral system. After the Lean Six Sigma project was completed, a noticeable improvement in compliance to response times was achieved and sigma improved from 2.05 to 2.2; even greater improvement is expected after all of the long term recommendations have been applied.
Cite this paper: Alkinaidri, A. , Alsulami, H. and Al-Nafea, A. (2018) Improving Healthcare Referral System Using Lean Six Sigma. American Journal of Industrial and Business Management, 8, 193-206. doi: 10.4236/ajibm.2018.82013.

[1]   Alkhamis, A. (2012) Health Care System in Saudi Arabia: An Overview. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, 18, 1078-1080.

[2]   Karim, A. and Arif-Uz-Zaman, K. (2013) A Methodology for Effective Implementation of Lean Strategies and Its Performance Evaluation in Manufacturing Organizations. Business Process Management Journal, 19, 169-196.

[3]   Bossert, J. (2003) Lean and Six Sigma Synergy Made in Heaven. Quality Progress, 36.

[4]   Burghall, R., Grant, V. and Morgan, J. (2014) Lean Six Sigma Business Transformation for Dummies. John Wiley & Sons, USA.

[5]   Mannon, M. (2014) Lean Healthcare and Quality Management: The Experience of ThedaCare. The Quality Management Journal, 21, 7-10.

[6]   De Koning, H., Verver, J.P., van den Heuvel, J., Bisgaard, S. and Does, R.J. (2006) Lean Six Sigma in Healthcare. Journal for Healthcare Quality, 28, 4-11.

[7]   Proudlove, N., Moxham, C. and Boaden, R. (2008) Lessons for Lean in Healthcare from Using Six Sigma in the NHS. Public Money & Management, 28, 27.

[8]   Galganski, C.J. and Thompson, J.M. (2008) Six Sigma: An Overview and Hospital Library Experience. Journal of Hospital Librarianship, 8, 133-144.

[9]   Gauss, C. and Shewhart, W. (1920) The History of Six Sigma.

[10]   Powell, A.E., Rushmeer, R.K., Davies, H.T.O. and NHS Quality Improvement Supply Chain Otland (2009) A Systematic Narrative Review of Quality Improvement Models in Health Care. NHS Quality Improvement Supply Chain.

[11]   Coffin, C. (2013) The Continuous Improvement Process and Ergonomics in Ultrasound Department. Radiology Management, 35, 22-25.

[12]   Nicolay, C., Purkayastha, S., Greenhalgh, A., Benn, J., Chaturvedi, S., Phillips, N. and Darzi, A. (2012) Systematic Review of the Application of Quality Improvement Methodologies from the Manufacturing Industry to Surgical Healthcare. British Journal of Surgery, 99, 324-335.

[13]   Varkey, P. and Kollengod, A. (2011) A Framework for Healthcare Quality Improvement in India: The Time Is Here and Now. Journal of Postgraduate Medicine, 57, 237-241.

[14]   Impellizzeri, F., Bizzini, M., Leunig, M., Maffiuletti, N. and Mannion, A. (2009) Money Matters: Exploiting the Data from Outcomes Research for Quality Improvement Initiatives. European Spine Journal, 18, S348-S359.

[15]   Cavalheiro, L., Caserta Eid, R., Talerman, C., Prado, C., Gobbi, F. and Andreoli, P. (2014) Design of an Instrument to Measure the Quality of Care in Physical Therapy. Health Economics and Management, 13, 260-268.

[16]   Paper, W. (n.d.) Pursuing Perfection in Healthcare with Six Sigma. White Paper, SIXSIGMA QUALTEC 2006, 1-8.

[17]   Center for Innovation in Quality Patient Care (n.d.)

[18]   Welch, J. (n.d.) What Is Six Sigma?

[19]   Smith, B., Galvin, B., Bossidy, L., Welch, J., Shewhart, W. and Deming, E. (1993) General History of Six Sigma & Continuous Improvement.

[20]   Overland, D. (2011) The Buzz around Lean Six Sigma at Hospitals.