Using Six Sigma DMAIC Methodology and Discrete Event Simulation to Reduce Patient Discharge Time in King Hussein Cancer Center
Authors: Mazen Arafeh, Mahmoud A. Barghash, Nirmin Haddad, Nadeem Musharbash, Dana Nashawati, Adnan Al-Bashir, Fatina Assaf
Journal: Journal of Healthcare Engineering
Short discharge time from hospitals increases both bed availability and patients’ and families’ satisfaction. In this study, the Six Sigma process improvement methodology was applied to reduce patients’ discharge time in a cancer treatment hospital. Data on the duration of all activities, from the physician signing the discharge form to the patient leaving the treatment room, were collected through patient shadowing. These data were analyzed using detailed process maps and cause-and-effect diagrams. Fragmented and unstandardized processes and procedures and a lack of communication among the stakeholders were among the leading causes of long discharge times. Categorizing patients by their needs enabled better design of the discharge processes. Discrete event simulation was utilized as a decision support tool to test the effect of the improvements under different scenarios. Simplified and standardized processes, improved communications, and system-wide management are among the proposed improvements, which reduced patient discharge time by 54% from 216 minutes. Cultivating the necessary ownership through stakeholder analysis is an essential ingredient of sustainable improvement efforts.