Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Lean Six Sigma Approach for SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Turnaround Time (TAT) Improvement at a Hospital-Based Tertiary Laboratory
Keywords:Lean six Sigma, SARS-CoV-2, turnaround time
Objectives. This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the Lean Six Sigma approach in improving procedure for (TAT) of reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for SARS-CoV-2 testing at The Medical City. Specific objectives of the study are to determine the following: 1) baseline sigma and average TAT (in hours); 2) post-implementation sigma and average TAT (in hours) 3) compare if there is a significant improvement between baseline and post-implementation sigma and average TAT (in hours) 4) effect on workflow efficiency.
Methodology. Lean Six Sigma method for quality improvement was applied using DMAIC: Define, Measure, Improve, and Control. The root causes identified were lack of manpower, equipment, space, and manual and complex processes. Then, process wastes were identified, and corresponding proposed solutions were sustained in the control phase, such as standardization and the use of automation. Measurement of turn-around time and six sigma of the process were performed for evaluation.
Results. Results showed a significant improvement in the TAT in RT-PCR results, with most results released within 24 hours. The pre-Lean Six Sigma data on TAT were as follows: 24.88% released within 24 hours; 65.14% released within 24-48 hours; 3.56% released within 48-72 hours, and 6.42% released in more than 72 hours. The post Lean Six Sigma TAT were as follows: 95.32% released within 24 hours; 4.29% released within 24 to 48 hours; 0.13% released within 48-72 hours, and 0.12% released more than 72 hours. The computed sigma post-implementation was increased from 3.56 to 4.82. The p-value was calculated using the chi-square test, and the computed chi-square statistic is 1894.1021. The p-value is <0.00001 and the result is significant at p<.05. Although there is a significant decrease in the volume of samples post implementation due to the changing COVID19 situation, real time TAT was improved. It also resulted to increased workflow efficiency with the use of lesser manpower with more appropriate utilization.
Conclusion. Applying the Lean Six Sigma method to improve quality processes in the laboratory as this is shown to be practical, cost-effective, and straightforward.
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