How Lean Six Sigma Can Improve Healthcare Processes

Identifying the 8 Forms of Waste

Lean Six Sigma is a fact-based, data-driven philosophy for improving processes that values defect prevention over defect detection. It combines the Lean and Six Sigma philosophies to improve performance by reducing variations in workflow and minimizing the waste that exists in all processes. This post specifically discusses these types of waste within the context of healthcare, where defects can be more fatal than any other industry.

According to the Institute of Medicine, an estimated 98,000 Americans die annually due to medical mistakes. That makes medical errors the third leading cause of death in the United States. Additionally, an estimated 1.3 million people are injured in American hospitals annually, according to a Harvard University study. Lean Six Sigma offers solutions that can eliminate waste, prevent defects and cut those numbers significantly.

Lean generally defines waste as the use of any material, space or time that doesn’t add value to a product. Japanese industrialist Taichi Ohno was an early pioneer of lean manufacturing who identified seven forms of waste, which are the first seven discussed in this post. The eighth form has been identified by Jim Womack of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

1. Defects

A defect is anything that requires correction, which can have grave consequences in healthcare. Common examples of defects include an imaging error, mislabeled specimen or specimen with no label at all. Defects require resources such as time and material to correct, which incurs a direct cost for an organization.

2. Waiting

Waiting in healthcare can include waiting for material to arrive, waiting for the next step in a procedure to be completed or a patient waiting to see a medical practitioner. Waiting is a waste for an organization because it accomplishes nothing, while still requiring personnel to be paid for their time. This is one of the most common ways that healthcare organizations waste their resources.

For example, before applying Lean Six Sigma, walk-in emergency room patients of North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York were experiencing wait time averaging 187 minutes. After the bottlenecks in the process were identified and addressed using Lean Six Sigma techniques, that wait time decreased by 37%, according to an article by Villanova University.

3. Overproduction

Overproduction occurs when a process produces more material than the next step requires. This form of waste has a direct cost in manufacturing, which uses capital that could have been used for more useful purposes. Overproduction may also result in a storage cost, which is at least an indirect cost. However, storage can also become a direct cost if the extra product isn’t used before its shelf life expires.

4. Overprocessing

Overprocessing is the performance of activities that consume resources without
providing additional value. Adding features to software that will never be used, and testing that doesn’t provide additional information are common examples of
overprocessing in healthcare.

5. Excess Inventory

Excess inventory is a form of waste that’s very similar to overproduction, primarily since it also incurs storage costs. Unnecessary storage incurs a cost that isn’t the best use of an organization’s capital, which can become prohibitive when inventory exceeds available storage. Similar to the waste of overproduction, excess inventory can lead to material waste due to spoilage.

6. Motion

Motion is a form of waste resulting from the unnecessary movement of people, which usually involves other forms of waste. People in motion are typically unable to accomplish their primary duties and may need to spend additional time on other tasks such as searching for materials or information. Poor filing and retrieval systems often result in a waste of motion.

7. Transportation

Transportation involves the movement of material, which occurs when the material isn’t at its point of use yet. Each time you need material that isn’t at your location, that material must be transported before you can use it. Transportation time is therefore a form of waste closely associated with waiting. Furthermore, transportation costs aren’t the best use of an organization’s resources.

8. Underutilization

Womack identified underutilization as an eighth form of waste, in addition to the other seven recognized by Ohno. It refers to the underutilization of human capital, meaning someone’s talents aren’t being used in the best way. This type of waste often occurs when someone is overqualified for their position, preventing an organization from making full use of their potential.


  • Lean Six Sigma is a data-driven philosophy to improve processes. It combines the Lean principles and Six Sigma philosophies to improve performance by reducing variations in workflow and minimizing the waste that exists in all processes.
  • Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Therefore, a significant opportunity for process improvement exists within the healthcare industry, where defects are often fatal.
  • There are seven forms of waste identified by Japanese industrialist Taichi Ohno, who was an early pioneer of lean manufacturing concepts. Jim Womack of MIT identified an eighth form of waste.

At Vector International, our experienced process improvement consultants use Lean Six Sigma tools and methodologies with our clients to eliminate waste, optimize processes, and implement controls to ensure enhancement and sustainability in healthcare and other industries. Our goal is to help your business achieve operational excellence. For more information, contact us now!

Inspirational 2019 Women’s Summit Promises to Empower Participants to Unleash their Full Potential

Parsippany, NJ – An inspirational 2019 Women’s Empowerment Summit will seek to educate participants about the future of work and the tools for maximum engagement and career success.

The Vector International Women Empowerment Summit (VWES) is a one-day professional development conference that seeks to inspire, educate, and connect individual professionals, business leaders, and emerging leaders of all ages and abilities.  The summit is to be held on June 20th, 2019, at the Hanover Marriott, Whippany, NJ.

“This event is a unique opportunity for attendees to learn new tools and paradigms that will empower radical change and enable each to realize his/her true potential,” says Beverly Smith, Chief Operating Officer at Vector International.  “The objective of each session is to present new knowledge, as well as proven and practical approaches, so that session attendees can get inspiration and ideas for ways to either advance their careers and/or enhance their personal wellbeing.”

The conference deliberations will examine some of the enduring traits of career success, while simultaneously exploring requirements of the work of the future, and the critical role of technology.

“Whether you are a business owner, a seasoned corporate executive, an individual contributor, or if you are at the beginning of your career journey, this summit will help elevate your sense of empowerment,” states Smith.  “We are so proud of the messaging of our contributors and are very excited to share their experience and profound knowledge with participants.”

Participants will hear from a wide breadth of inspiring featured speakers, including:

  • Michele Siekerka, President & CEO, NJBIA
  • Robin Rotenberg, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Chief Communication Officer, BASF Corporation
  • Anjali Reddi, Global VP | Data & Analytics Customer Solutions | AI & Machine Learning, Dun & Bradstreet
  • Jackie Lue Raia, Director of Corporate Outreach & Training, Fairleigh Dickinson University
  • Dr. Dale Caldwell, Executive Director of the Rothman Institute, Fairleigh Dickinson University
  • Caterina Bulgarella, PhD, Co-Founder, Be Thread
  • Jay Weisman, Principal, Legacy Philanthropy Group
  • Rich Keller, Chief Empowerment Officer, SCORE
  • Julbert Arbraham, Founder & CEO, AGM
  • Elizabeth Nader, Founder, The Idea Woman
  • Patricia Rivers, Head of Organizational Project Management, Alcon R&D
  • And so many more!

For more information about The Vector International Women Empowerment Summit, or to register, please visit

Contact Information


Vector International Unveils New Website

Enhancing the Customer Experience

Vector International, a leading provider of Lean Six Sigma training and deployment, has re-launched its website ( with new value-added features to demonstrate its commitment to customer satisfaction. The upgraded site is now mobile compatible and features industry case studies, up-to-date training schedule, blog, testimonials and learning opportunities through journal publications and white papers. Online visitors will experience dramatic improvements in appearance, navigation and enhanced utility, as well as share professional information with others on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. In the coming months, the company plans to introduce new website blog and webinars to refresh learning and to strengthen tools application.

Vector International is a New Jersey based training and management consulting firm that specializes in the application of Lean and Six Sigma methodologies. The team at Vector International is a group of highly experienced professionals best known for their technical expertise in Lean and Six Sigma tools and methodology, business process modeling and optimization, customized on-site Lean Six Sigma implementation, comprehensive training and unparalleled on-going technical support.

[Press Release: Website Launch]

Vector International Partners with Local Businesses

Vector International launches a unique partnership
Vector International launches a unique partnership with local businesses in New York and New Jersey to connect its Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and Black Belt candidates to local business opportunities. The candidates pursue impactful business projects while they seek to gain their professional certification.

The unique partnership between Vector International Lean Six Sigma Green Belt candidates and local firms offers substantial mutual benefits to all parties. The partnership helps experienced professionals, who are in career transition, to explore new opportunities while getting their “foot in the door”. On the other hand, the host companies benefit from the skills, wisdom and experience of a motivated individual.

The participating companies come from a wide cross-section of industries and business sectors including IT, manufacturing, financial services, pharmaceutical and consulting services. A number of the participating firms have expresses interest in retaining the right candidates as they seek to beef up employment in 2015. According to local New Jersey business owner, Carl Fraser, Lean Six Sigma training has given professionals the tools to transition successfully to new careers that set them apart from everyone else in the job market.

Key attributes of the Participants

  • Talented resource with a wide range of skills and business experiences
  • Able to “hit the ground running” and can deliver great value from day one
  • Can bring a fresh and new perspective to the business
  • Averaged 10 years industry experience.
Project Specification

  • The project must be a good match for the candidate’s background & experiences
  • Diverse project type, IT, operations, financial analysis, new product launch, market development, strategy, business development, business process/services development, etc.
  • Clearly and narrowly defined scope of work sufficient to engage a professional for 10-12 weeks half-full time.
  • Project results should be measurable – should be able to specify financial impact
  • Challenging but achievable for an experienced professional in that time frame.
  • Learning experience and results to add to the candidate’s resume and help them evaluate whether they want to get more involved in the sector.
  • Best case scenario: the firm hires them full or part time.
  • Be specific regarding project deliverables

The program is offered exclusively to Vector International Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and Black Belts candidates. Firms wishing to participate may contact Vector International offices and complete an application form in order to be considered.

About Vector International

A New Jersey based training and management solutions firm that specializes in the application of Lean and Six Sigma methodologies to drive business performance. The firm partners with organizations to achieve breakthrough improvement in customer satisfaction, growth and profitability across multiple customer segments. As a team of Lean and Six Sigma experts and industry practitioners, Vector International consistently delivers positive and sustainable business results by optimizing critical business processes and instituting change management practices as a key element of its deployment activities.

[Press Release: Partnership Program]