There have always been many statistical methods for measuring and improving quality.The concept of Six Sigma was developed first by Mikel J.Harry in connection withquality program at Motorola in 1987. The program gained importance when Motorolawon the Malcolm Baldrige quality award. Further development took place in the turn of the decade in ABB where Harry worked as a vice-president in-charge of quality systemsdevelopment.According to Jack Welch, General Electric's 1996 Annual Meeting - "GE Quality 2000will be the biggest, the most personally rewarding, and in the end, the most profitableundertaking in our history. We have set for ourselves the goal of becoming by the year 2000 a six-sigma quality company, which means a company virtually, defect-free products, services and transactions".The various other Companies adopting the concept of Six sigma for continuouslyimproving their performance include: Texas instruments 1988, Kodak 1995, Sony 1997, Nokia 1997 plus over 50 companies are sharing the best practices of six sigma.
Need and importance of six-sigma
According to Gemmel et al (1995), to survive in the next decade it becomes increasinglyimportant for the hospital managers to better manage their resources, whereby attentionwill focus on the issues of quality management and concepts of improving effectivenessof service delivery. The author notes that to achieve improvements, hospitals should notconcern themselves with spending money, but in reality identifying and meeting patientneeds. The most relevant TQM strategy to identify the customer requirements is throughthe process of Six Sigma, which focuses primarily on the voice of the customer.Over the last ten years there has been a tremendous increase in references and interest inquality assurance as it applies to health care. World Health Organization (WHO) workinggroup on quality assurance discerned four sets of reasons: Economic, Social, Political andProfessional (WHO,1995). Demand for health care is increasing. Not only are peopleliving longer and requiring care over a longer period and into a extended old age but alsoexpectations are rising through education and general interest. There is increasingemphasis on value for money and cost effective solutions.The traditional concerns and methods have changed in recent years because of changes inthe health care and in society.
, health care has become more complex. A patientsuffering a heart attack will come in contact with many doctors and other professionals inthe episode of care.
, change is evident in patient's expectations and traditionalauthority relations in society have changed and there is increasing consumerism wherethe patients expect to be told what is being provided for them and to have redress if theservice falls below standard.
, those paying for health services have become moreconcerned about rising health care costs and possible inefficiencies.