Improving clinical performance with Six Sigma Green Belt training

Improving clinical performance with Six Sigma Green Belt training

Vascular surgeon leads Six Sigma classes in February

Friday, October 27, 2017

Vascular Surgeon Sapan Desai, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH) Medical Group, is leading a Six Sigma Green Belt training course to improve performance at NCH.

“There are more than 300 process steps required to get a patient from the front door of the hospital safely to the Operating Room for an emergency surgery,” says Dr. Desai, adding that “a breakdown in any one of these steps can lead to patient harm, delays in care and escalating costs. With the work of a multidisciplinary team here at NCH, we have been able to reduce the number of steps required and complete the process in as little as 21 minutes. That’s performance improvement.”

Dr. Desai, who also serves as NCH’s Director of Performance Improvement, is working with John Cosentino, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, on NCH’s Green Belt training, which is based on the performance improvement philosophy of building multidisciplinary teams that work together to enhance complex clinical processes. The term “Green Belt” signifies a level of expertise with skills such as statistics, financial analysis and clinical process design.

“Since the 1920s, the word ‘sigma’ has been used by mathematicians and engineers as a symbol for a measurement related to product quality variation,” Cosentino says. “In the 1980s, two Motorola engineers coined the name Six Sigma for an in-house initiative for reducing defects in production.”

John went on to say that Motorola engineers – Mikal Harry and Bill Smith – also came up with the idea of ranking Six Sigma competencies to the various levels used in Judo.

“Today, organizations in more than 20 different industries across the world are benefitting from Six Sigma tools and these methods,” Cosentino says.

Several NCH employees are currently completing their Green Belt training. They are:

  • Anjali Bisht, Infection Prevention and Control Practitioner
  • Michael DeFranze, Pharmacy Manager
  • Nancy Gere, Quality Analyst
  • Sandra Heyboer, Nurse Educator
  • Tom Orysczak, D.O., Medical Director, Utilization Management
  • Robert Rao, M.D., Medical Director, Surgical Services
  • Ghanshyam Shah, M.D., Medical Director, Medical Services

According to Michael DeFranze, “I look at opportunities differently now. We have a tendency to react quickly to an issue and formulate an immediate solution,” he says. “Green Belt training helped me better understand the value of analyzing an opportunity more objectively before jumping to conclusions.”

“It is critical to constantly challenge yourself to learn new and different disciplines,” says Dr. Orysczak. “Green Belt training provided a concise and interesting way to implement positive change and expand my knowledge base.”

The benefits that NCH will reap from Green Belt-trained employees won’t end when their initial project is completed. “As the number of Green Belts at NCH increases and this methodology spreads throughout our organization, we will see a critical mass of employees pursuing improvement throughout our system,” Cosentino says.

Dr. Desai sees a growing interest in Green Belt training here at NCH. “This is a pathway for talented individuals to make a meaningful contribution to the world around them,” he says. “We are looking for creative leaders who see an opportunity to improve direct or indirect patient care or systems. The more ideas, the better!”

“The Green Belts have learned a great deal about teamwork, leadership and communications – and it isn’t just theoretical,” says Dr. Desai. “There are practical exercises at each session, culminating in the ultimate test of application – their own project,” he says.

The next Six Sigma Green Belt training session will begin in February. If you are interested in participating, contact Dr. Desai at 847-618-3800 or email him at