Improving Patient Satisfaction with Pain Management Using Six Sigma Tools

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Abstract:

Background: Patient satisfaction as a direct and public measure of quality of care is changing the way hospitals address quality improvement. The feasibility of using the Six Sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) methodology to improve patient satisfaction as it relates to pain management was evaluated.

Methods: This project used the DMAIC methodology to improve patients' overall satisfaction with pain management on two inpatient units in an urban academic medical center. Pre- and postintervention patient surveys were conducted. The DMAIC methodology provided a data-driven structure to determine the optimal improvement strategies, as well as a long-term plan for maintaining any improvements. In addition, the Change Acceleration Process (CAP) was used throughout the project's various DMAIC stages to further the work of the team by creating a shared need to meet the objectives of the project.

Results: Overall satisfaction with pain management "excellent" ratings increased from 37% to 54%. Both units surpassed the goal of at least 50% of responses in the "excellent" category. Several key drivers of satisfaction with pain management were uncovered in the Analyze phase of the project, and each saw rating increases from the pre-intervention to postintervention surveys. Ongoing monitoring by the hospital inpatient satisfaction survey showed that the pain satisfaction score improved in subsequent quarters as compared with the pre-intervention period.

Discussion: The Six Sigma DMAIC methodology can be used successfully to improve patient satisfaction. The project led to measurable improvements in patient satisfaction with pain management, which have endured past the duration of the Six Sigma project. The Control phase of DMAIC allows the improvements to be incorporated into daily operations.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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