It is common for every surgeon to specify an instrumentation table for each technique. At the cardosurgical unit at Standford Hospital and Clinics were six different instrumentation tables for each type of case, one for each surgeon.

The Lean Six Sigma approach teaches that every unnecessary complexity produces costs, wastage, and contributes to time wasting. So all of the surgeons were summoned in Standford, and they were asked: “Can you get rid of some of these variants?” Of course, the surgeons were at first skeptical: “We all need our instrumental table.”

But was it really true? After the surgeons were forced to deal with this issue more closely, they realized that the existence of six different instrument tables had little effect on the quality of care provided to patients. During several meetings, they agreed on a standard instrument table. Therefore, the purchasing department could buy fewer types of tools and also save the purchase of a larger number of used tools.

Standford has continued to apply this rule of simplicity and other Lean Six Sigma concepts. Result? The annual cost of materials has fallen by $ 25 million. Care costs also dropped: for example, the average total cost of bypass surgery decreased by 40% and the mortality rate for cardiac surgery decreased from 7.7% to 3.7%.

Many people and companies would approach the problem much more traditionally on the standpoint of Standford and try to prepare the instrumentation tables faster or better and you would not even ask whether they are necessary at all. But critical thinking is the key to achieving good results.

If you want to learn about the basics of process improvement using the Lean Six Sigma methodology, we offer the basic training of Six Sigma Yellow Belt. We present the participants with a set of simple tools and techniques to solve process problems and with the aim of doing things more simply, to a higher standard and always to the customer’s satisfaction. Participants will learn to process think and how to identify waste or inefficiency in their work.

Source: GEORGE, M.., ROWLANDS, D. a KASTLE, B. Co je Lean Six Sigma?, ISBN 80-239-5172-6.