Yellow Belt Interview – What exactly did you do on the project?

Aliyah Thompson works for a healthcare company in New York.  Last year her organization initiated a company-wide six sigma improvement project that cascaded through all areas of the company.  Aliyah served a small but important part of the project and has agreed to share her store.

– Aliyah, thank you for this interview.  Can you tell us how your company introduced you to Six Sigma?

– It seemed like the announcement came out of the blue, but my boss said it had been in the planning stages for a while.  They didn’t announce the project as a Six Sigma project, but just told us they were launching a project to try and streamline everything.  The healthcare system we work for has actually been losing money the past few years and Covid 19 made it even worse.

SSCE – So the hospital launched the Six Sigma project during Covid?

Aliyah – Yes, it was shortly after Covid started.  They said it was important for the company to cut costs and they were looking for ways to do that without cutting staff.

SSCE – When was the first time you heard the words Six Sigma?

Aliyah – It wasn’t until I was signed up for a training class by my manager.  The title of the training was “Six Sigma Yellow Belt – Subject Matter Experts”.

SSCE – What is your normal job at the hospital?

Aliyah – I work in administration.  I deal with all the paperwork for admissions.  When a patient is being admitted there is a lot of paperwork.  I coordinate rooms, verify insurance, handle transfers, stuff like that.

SSCE – What was the training like?

Aliyah – It wasn’t too bad.  Honestly it was kind of boring, haha.  I was nervous before the training because someone told me there was a lot of math involved, but that really wasn’t the case.  For the Yellow Belt role you’re really just doing your normal job.

SSCE – So you didn’t have to do a lot of statistical analysis or anything like that?

Aliyah – No, for me it was really just about helping my boss streamline our job.  I know my boss, who was a Green Belt, had to do some calculations and stuff, but she did all that in Excel so I don’t think it was too bad.

SSCE – How long did you work on the project?

Aliyah – It was only about three weeks.  It consisted of a lot of meetings and analysis of our processes.  The project coordinator wanted to see everything I did and shadowed me non-stop for three days.  Writing down all the forms I used, the different places I traveled to in the hospital, everything.

SSCE – Sounds like it was invasive?

Aliyah – Kinda yeah, but not really.  They made it very clear that they weren’t evaluating me, but evaluating the processes that I need to follow to admit patients and process the insurance.

SSCE – Can you give me a specific example of something you found during the project?

Aliyah – My biggest complaint with admissions is that I needed to go to a different department in the hospital if anything insurance-related came up.  For example, if the patient had Medicaid and Medicare, I’d need to go to Records to help determine how the billing would be processed.  This project really highlighted the problem.  I was wasting a lot of time going back and forth.

SSCE – Had you reported this problem in the past?

Aliyah – Yes but no one really listened.  It’s just the way the process has always been done and was considered part of the job.

SSCE – So the project validated what you had pointed out in the past.

Aliyah – Yes, once they say how much time it wasted.

SSCE – Was this issue eventually fixed?

Aliyah – Yes, about six months later they moved the Records department to the office next to admissions and installed a window between the two rooms.  That completely eliminated my need to walk anywhere to do my job.  They also made some small updates to our software that improved the process.  We also used 5S methods to make sure everything is sorted in the office correctly.

SSCE – So has your job improved since the changes?

Aliyah – Very much so.  I can admit patients much faster now.

SSCE – Moving the Records office and making the software changes must have been expensive for the hospital, do you think it was worth the expense?

Aliyah – I would say yes.  We’re wasting less time and we’re admitting patients faster.  We also accept more transfer patients from other hospitals now and answer a lot more phone calls.  I think in the long run this has made the hospital much more efficient and profitable.

SSCE – Do you plan to take your Six Sigma Green belt certification in the future?

Aliyah – Maybe, I really liked working on my part of the project.  I also know having the certification could be helpful in the future if we do another Six Sigma project, or if I switch jobs.

SSCE – Aliyah that you so much for taking about your six sigma project experience with us.

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