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Newton Medical Center seeks better care, less waste
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Six members of Newton Medical Center’s staff have achieved the green belt level of Six Sigma certification, a business management strategy designed to improve processes and eliminate errors or waste.

Six Sigma was created by Motorola in the 1980s and has gone on to be adapted for many different sectors of industry, including hospitals. Major corporations, including General Electric, Honeywell and other Fortune 500 companies, have implemented the Six Sigma practice.

"Our goal for Six Sigma was to improve the quality of care provided to our patients, reduce the time it takes for patients to receive care and reduce costs incurred by the hospital," said Greg Richardson, director of Human Resources at Newton Medical Center, in a release. "During a 120-day cycle of the course, we were each responsible for leading a team to improve a specific process using the Six Sigma method."

Some of the improvements follow.

Improving the average time it takes from an inpatient discharge order to the time the patient leaves from 211 minutes to 117 minutes.

Improving the time it takes from the decision to admit an Emergency Room patient. Before the improvement, 10 percent of the time this occurred in less than 60 minutes, which is the goal. Following the improvements, it took less than an hour 60 percent of the time.

Improving the turnaround time for getting Inpatient Radiology exam results to the ordering physician from 356 minutes down to 121 minutes.

Other improvements were made to the time it takes to have same-day surgery patients ready for surgery, the time it takes to send out a bill, and the reduction of pharmacy waste.

"We are thrilled with the initial success resulting from implementation of Six Sigma methodology and will continue to use Six Sigma to improve other areas of the hospital," said Administrator Jim Weadick.

In order to successfully complete the Green Belt certification each of the Green Belts had to implement at least four statistically significant changes, complete an oral defense of their project and pass an extensive written exam. The Newton Medical Center team members who received the green belt designation include Becky Bailey, director of Emergency Services; Becky Beavers, director of Education; Alex Belmont, director of Cardiopulmonary; Troy Brooks, assistant administrator for Fiscal Services, Susan Camp, clinical manager of Medical/Surgical; and Greg Richardson, director of Human Resources.