“In God we trust, all others bring data.” This quote from William Edwards Deming was the call to action in the presentation by Michael Croghan, SVP, Chief Product Strategist & Technology Officer, Care Management Technologies, The Six Sigma Approach To Leveraging Predictive Analytics & Improving Quality Of Care, at the 2015 OPEN MINDS Performance Management Institute. With clients, Chad Stephens, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Centerpoint Human Services, and Joel Leonard, Quality Management Director, Centerpoint Human Services, Dr. Croghan provided both an overview of the Six Sigma process and an example of how Six Sigma was used by Centerpoint to improve consumer quality.
For those who weren’t familiar with it, Dr. Croghan explained that Six Sigma is a data-driven quality improvement methodology for eliminating “defects” in any process – from manufacturing to health care, and from product to service. The performance goal (and the name of the methodology) is from statistics, and is used in statistical quality control, which evaluates process capability. It refers to the ability to manage processes with six standard deviations with a goal of not more than 3.4 “defects” per million.
The key to Six Sigma is not just collecting data, but using the data to identify both problems and causes of those problems. “Understand the cause before defining the solution,” said Mr. Croghan. “Do not start with a solution, just because you have that solution on hand.” Care Management Technologies implements Six Sigma using the DMAIC model – Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control.
The case study of Six Sigma (and DMAIC) in practice was provided by Dr. Stephens and Mr. Leonard of Centerpoint. The problem identified by the Centerpoint team was increased morbidity and mortality of a high-risk group of Medicaid clients with SMI due to preventable medical conditions. They determined one of the root causes was of the problem started with the low screening rates for metabolic problems by provider organizations. As a result, they implemented a solution that pushed out data on the consumer metabolic screening rates – with comparisons for each provider organization. The result – improved medical monitoring for this population.
I think the Six Sigma methodology – and particular the DMAIC process – is a great tool for moving organizations to metrics-based management. For clinical professionals, DMAIC has the comfortable feel of Total Quality Management initiatives in the past (see Introduction and Implementation of Total Quality Management). It makes tangible the process of problem identification and analysis – but most importantly, action.
For more on using technology to collect, analyze and implement data in the quest to identify and solve the pressing treatment issues in health and human services, check out Aiming For True North, Metrics-Based Managing As ‘Cause & Effect’, and Two Uses Of Metrics-Based Management – Strategy & Business Process Management. And for more on metrics-based management, join us in San Diego at the 2015 OPEN MINDS California Management Best Practices Institute, on August 26-27, for the session, Making The Most Of Your Performance Data With Metrics-Based Management.