Thirty team members at Fairfield County Health Department participated in Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification. Of those, five went on to earn their Green Belt certification and an additional four participants are completing their projects.
“All staff received Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt training so that they are introduced to quality improvement principles and tools and can be effective continuous quality improvement project team members,” said Health Commissioner Joe Ebel. “We offered Green Belt training to a group of interested staff and managers who will lead quality improvement teams in the future.”
Lean Six Sigma is a recognized industry standard and structured team-based problem-solving approach to improve quality and productivity with a focus on the voice of the customer. The Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification indicates that an individual is an effective problem-solving team member.
The Green Belt certification indicates that a participant is an effective problem-solving team leader. People who earn this certification have effectively led a team to solve a problem that yields measurable improvement.
One such project reduced the wait time for WIC (Women Infants and Children) clients by identifying and addressing bottlenecks in the check-in process. Wait times varied from 10 minutes to 20 minutes prior to the solutions the team implemented, which reduced the wait time to less than five minutes.
“Following the Lean Six Sigma process helped us to zero in on the true problem and find a solution to that problem in a systematic way,” said Amy Gabriel, co-lead for the project. “Allowing the staff to have input throughout the process gave them ownership and allowed them to see that we were trying to make a positive change for them as well as the clients.”
Lucinda Robinson, Nutrition Assistant for the WIC office was part of the process improvement team, shared, “Once we had identified the bottleneck of our flow with the check-in process, it made things move so much easier to identify possible solutions.”
Health Professional Cheryl Hopkins, Registered Licensed Dietitian with the WIC Program, agreed adding, “The old system had our clients standing in line to sign in and often waiting for several minutes, especially if someone was being helped at the window.”
Mary Smith, WIC Program Director, and co-lead for the project, shared that the team utilized a two-week time study to determine the time from when a client signed in before WIC staff provided service. “The team used a fish bone diagram, a time study, and a Pareto chart, to analyze the root cause of the wait” she explained.
Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt Brad Hollingworth, mentor and trainer for the team, was impressed with how the team utilized the tools to ensure the root cause of the problem was identified and the solutions were effective, efficient, and measurable. “The Fairfield County Health Department has embraced the Lean Six Sigma methodology for process improvement to ensure excellent customer service, reduced costs, and ongoing improved efficiency as they serve the residents of Fairfield County.”
“Our staff was not thrilled at having to do the time study, but once we determined where the holdup was in the wait time and implemented a solution, they were grateful for the change in the process,” Gabriel added. “Other staff are now able to help out more because we can see who has signed in and we function more like a team.”
The team implemented two significant process improvement solutions including an electronic sign in and relocation of a staff member’s workspace.
“Now the client can sign in on their phone, they don’t even need to go to the window until they are called for their turn to be serviced,” said Hopkins. “The entire WIC staff can now see, from our offices, what is happening at the front window, and help as needed.” She went on to explain that the project helped enhance teamwork among the various WIC services. “The solution has definitely made both our jobs and the clients’ experience, a better one,” she added.
Health Commissioner Ebel is pleased with the results of the WIC process improvement project. “Waiting in line at the store, bank, or health department can be frustrating,” he said. “By implementing electronic check-in, we demonstrate our respect for our client’s time and improve their WIC experience.”
“By changing our process for check-ins, we were able to shorten wait times without adding staff or making facility changes,” Ebel explained. “I can envision additional projects in every division that could benefit from the tools learned during the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training.”
Ebel went on to share, “I highly recommend Lean Six Sigma training for any agency seeking to improve customer service, reduce costs, and improve efficiency. Brad provides activities and instruction that clearly communicate the principles of Lean Six Sigma in a way that engages participants and enhances the training experience.”
To learn how Lean Six Sigma process improvement trainings or facilitation can benefit your organization, visit https://www.hollingsworthconsulting.net/ to contact Brad Hollingworth.