Applying Lean Six Sigma to improve medication management

Preethy Nayar, Diptee Ojha, Ann Fetrick, Anh T. Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Purpose – A significant proportion of veterans use dual care or health care services within and outside the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). In this study conducted at a VHA medical center in the USA, the authors used Lean Six Sigma principles to develop recommendations to eliminate wasteful processes and implement a more efficient and effective process to manage medications for dual care veteran patients. The purpose of this study is to: assess compliance with the VHA’s dual care policy; collect data and describe the current process for co-management of dual care veterans’ medications; and draft recommendations to improve the current process for dual care medications co-management. Design/methodology/approach – Input was obtained from the VHA patient care team members to draw a process map to describe the current process for filling a non-VHA prescription at a VHA facility. Data were collected through surveys and direct observation to measure the current process and to develop recommendations to redesign and improve the process. Findings – A key bottleneck in the process that was identified was the receipt of the non-VHA medical record which resulted in delays in filling prescriptions. The recommendations of this project focus on the four domains of: documentation of dual care; veteran education; process redesign; and outreach to community providers. Research limitations/implications – This case study describes the application of Lean Six Sigma principles in one urban Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in the Mid-Western USA to solve a specific organizational quality problem. Therefore, the findings may not be generalizable to other organizations. Practical implications – The Lean Six Sigma general principles applied in this project to develop recommendations to improve medication management for dual care veterans are applicable to any process improvement or redesign project and has valuable lessons for other VAMCs seeking to improve care for their dual care veteran patients. Originality/value – The findings of this project will be of value to VA providers and policy makers and health care managers who plan to apply Lean Six Sigma techniques in their organizations to improve the quality of care for their patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-23
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 8 2016


  • Continuous quality improvement
  • Lean thinking
  • Quality management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Health Policy


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