The purpose behind healthcare delivery, according to healthcare business consultant Austin Kirkland, is to eliminate under-performers for the good of value-based medicine. And the way to prevent your practice from being one of the under-performers? Lean Six Sigma.

Lean Six Sigma, when applied to the healthcare revenue cycle, Kirkland wrote in a recent article for Healthcare Finance News, can have vast implications for the financial viability of an organization. Some of the ways the methods can bring about improvement include increasing the number of patients whose insurance has been pre-verified; improving the accuracy of registration; improving cash collections; and avoiding the chief waste in healthcare delivery: time delays.

Kirkland cites the results at a Virginia surgical practice that employed Lean Six Sigma methods in its revenue cycle. The practice previously required about 13 days to post charges and submit a claim after the service was rendered. Lean Six Sigma training helped the practice to map the process and understand the eight steps it was requiring in the generation of a claim of service. Two of those steps involved the hospital and were out of the practice’s control. However, the staff involved worked on ways to reduce the time of the other six steps it could control. The result? Cutting the process to nine days and generating a one-time cash flow acceleration of $250,000. In addition, the staff found ways to reduce redundancies in the process, which allowed them to reallocate half of a full time employee’s time from medical records to other tasks.

Regardless of what business you’re in, there are probably processes in your job that could be done more effectively. Reducing time spent on those processes can not only save money or — as with the healthcare revenue cycle — cause money to be generated more quickly, but it can also free your staff to focus on other aspects of their jobs.

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