Six Sigma Quality
A Message From Our CEO, Dave Dexter
As an ancillary provider, laboratory represents only 5% of the healthcare dollar, but laboratory results impact 75% of the diagnostic process. Recently, the Institute of Medicine released a highly publicized study on the high rate of medical errors caused by healthcare providers in the United States . The study, titled "To Err is Human", details medical errors that cause 50,000 to 100,000 preventable deaths each year. Those are sobering statistics and this landmark study has resulted in considerable debate in healthcare circles as to what to do about it.
For Laboratory Sciences of Arizona and Sonora Quest Laboratories, Quality is one of our core Values, and there is no debate. Our decision is to proactively take the challenge to reduce laboratory errors by endeavoring to attain Six-Sigma...99.9997% accuracy or 3.4 ppm errors. The pursuit and attainment of Six-Sigma quality is not a quick fix...it's a major challenge, particularly, since no medical institution or laboratory has ever attained this level of quality. But this is a unique opportunity to improve the quality of healthcare we provide to our patients and clients, reduce the cost of poor quality, and distinguish Laboratory Sciences of Arizona and Sonora Quest Laboratories as the preeminent leader for laboratory medicine in Arizona. Simply put, our goal is to become the quality benchmark for laboratories in Arizona, and I am confident our 2,700 plus dedicated employees are committed to providing the level of outstanding quality and service to our patients and clients that will make this goal a reality.
What is Six Sigma Quality?
Right from the beginning, quality has been our core focus at Sonora Quest Laboratories. Six Sigma is our breakthrough process improvement strategy, by which we plan to achieve a new quality standard for the health care industry.
Six Sigma did not begin at Sonora Quest Laboratories. It had its birth in 1979 at Motorola. Six Sigma is focused on preventing problems by building quality into processes - by not having problems in the first place. The Six Sigma method utilizes full-time dedicated Black Belts (project managers) who receive a month of formal classroom training in process analysis and statistical methods as well as mentoring by Six Sigma experts.
Six Sigma stands for 3.4 defects per one million opportunities.
At Sonora Quest Laboratories, we are dedicated to providing the highest quality to the patients whose specimens are entrusted to us.
How Six Sigma Works
The Six Sigma method starts by asking the fundamental question: What is critical to our customers? Then rigorous analysis is applied to all processes in the business to assess whether they are delivering what customers require. Each time processes don't deliver, that is a defect. Six Sigma is passionate about using data to uncover the root causes of those defects and eliminating them from our processes. The ultimate objective is to deliver to customers what is critical to them each and every time - to produce "virtual perfection" from the customer's perspective. Common sense and force of personality are not means to reach dramatic improvements. The only way is to ask the tough questions and to use rigorous statistical and financial analysis. When problems are reduced, costs decline and customer satisfaction improves.
Why We Are Doing It: The Moral Imperative
According to the Institute of Medicine 's study, medical mistakes kill more people than are killed in automobile incidents per year.
SG Cowen Securities, a leading market analyst with a focus on healthcare, has determined that 70% of health care spending is impacted by clinical test results. Sonora Quest Laboratories provides critical input to healthcare decisions for more than 20,000 patients each day in Arizona and our goal is to provide our customers and patients with unparalleled quality and excellence in clinical testing.
The Business Imperative
Six Sigma is good business. We believe it will provide the foundation and fuel to attract and retain the best employees and help us to exceed our customers' expectations. As companies like Motorola, AlliedSignal and Texas Instruments have already found, Six Sigma delivers business results that can accelerate growth, reduce costs and ultimately deliver extraordinary profits to our stakeholders.
Our Progress to Date
In 2000, leaders throughout our organization were pulled out of their operating positions to become Black Belts or full-time, Six Sigma project leaders. Our Black Belts lead high-impact project teams focused on improving performance in areas of our business that are critical to customers. Each of these Black Belts has received four intensive weeks of training to learn the Six Sigma approach and how to lead teams through the process. The training is dedicated to a disciplined, rigorous and data-based process improvement strategy. It has proven to achieve dramatic results within our company.
The senior leadership team of Sonora Quest Laboratories is driving the major investment and commitment to dramatically improve our quality. Projects have been initiated in a variety of process areas: patient service centers, specimen processing, and the analytical laboratory. Our projects achieve improvements in a variety of areas and process improvement solutions are then deployed as appropriate throughout our organization.
Recognition For Quality
Our Six Sigma focus on quality has been recognized by the Arizona Alliance for Quality. In 2003, Sonora Quest Laboratories was awarded the Pioneer Quality Award, Arizona ’s second highest award for quality. In 2005, Sonora Quest Laboratories became the only healthcare company ever to receive our state’s highest quality award, the Arizona Governor’s Award for Quality. No organization has attained this award since.
Our Commitment to Quality
The patient comes first in everything we do. Our goal is to provide accurate results, on time, every time for our patients and customers.