Health Information Management

Ask the expert: What does Six Sigma refer to?

HIM-HIPAA Insider, June 26, 2007

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A: Six Sigma is a structured way of thinking of any process--such as coding a medical record or assembling a car. It is a systematic approach to problem-solving that improves performance by helping to identify wasteful tasks and quality problems.

Six Sigma identifies the following seven areas of waste:

  1. Overproduction--performing more work than is necessary
  2. Inventory--excess work-in-progress
  3. Rework or rejects--performing tasks that have already been completed
  4. Motion--needless movement of people
  5. Processing--analyzing information to perform a task
  6. Waiting--delay between when one process ends and the next begins
  7. Transporting--needless movement of materials, products, or information

Editor's note: This question and answer was adapted from a recent article in which one facility shared its experience with Six Sigma and how it used the principles to reorganize its HIM department. For more information, click here.

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