The in-house pharmacy department at the University of North Carolina Hospitals recently turned to Lean Six Sigma as a way to improve workflow and increase customer satisfaction among patients and nurses, according to a report from Pharmacy Times. The department not only achieved those objectives, but also found a reduction in errors, less clutter, and a greater understanding of the work process.

One of the Lean Six Sigma projects that was completed at the pharmacy was a code tray chart. The chart contained a layout of the code tray and placement of code drugs in small bins within arms reach. This eliminated 40 walking steps between the code tray and the carousel machine and resulted in fewer errors caused by a less efficient method of pharmacy technicians having to remember the correct amount of each drug that were needed in each code tray pocket.

The pharmacy also completed a Lean Six Sigma project to decrease the clutter created by returned medications that was resulting in expired medications and increased inventory on hand. In addition, a Lean Six Sigma project was implemented in order to manage other non-medical supplies and have an effective ordering process for those supplies.

A Lean Six Sigma project also led to the creation of a new triage technician position at the pharmacy, as the department discovered from speaking to their “customer” nurses that someone was needed to assist with helping locate missing doses or to answer intravenous questions, while referring more complicated questions to the pharmacists.

Through applying Lean Six Sigma to a number of its processes, the UNC Hospital pharmacy department was able to realize numerous benefits that help them to provide a more efficient and higher quality service. The same is true for businesses and organizations of all types.

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