HONOLULU -- For Regional Health Command-Pacific's Office of Strategy and Innovation, fiscal year 2016 was a tremendous year. The team reinvigorated continuous process improvement capabilities and Lean Six Sigma back into the organization. This resulted in training nearly 100 personnel, including leaders, across the Pacific region.

Lean Six Sigma combines two process improvement tools, Lean and Six Sigma. The combination increases efficiency, eliminates waste while improving quality and effectiveness through statistical control. Together, Lean and Six Sigma are powerful tools in transforming organizations.

In today's reality of resource constraints and ever-increasing requirements, the Army requires a capability to understand and improve generating force processes. Army Regulation 5-1 requires all generating force organizations to 'undertake business initiatives addressing specific business operations or process improvement'.

As a customer relations specialist for U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks, Brittany Jaccaud, a Lean Six Sigma green-belt candidate, has a unique perspective on improving processes.

"I often find areas of improvement that we don't normally focus on or that go unnoticed," said Jaccaud. "Lean Six Sigma provides an opportunity to take a closer look at those processes and improvements and actually see results."

The Army creates Lean Six Sigma practitioners to understand and improve generating force processes. These trained lean leaders, green belts, black belts and master black belts, provide the capability to define, analyze and improve processes with proven tools and methods.

"Lean Six Sigma is an amazing program that fits perfectly into Brian Allgood Army Community Hospital's (BAACH) mission by providing us tools to identify areas of our hospital that need improvement and how to find solutions," states Samantha Fox, Medical Support Assistant, BAACH. "By using the tools learned during Lean Six Sigma training, we are continually striving to provide the best care possible to all of our patients."

Last October, the region, hosted in partnership with the U.S. Army Pacific, one project sponsor and one project identification workshop with participants from U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks and U.S. Army Pacific units.

The workshops were followed by a green belt and a black belt training class, both held in Honolulu, Hawaii. Over 30 students attended both classes, representing Tripler Army Medical Center, U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks, Navy Health Clinic-Hawaii, Dental Command--Pacific, the VA Pacific Islands Health System, the Hawaii Enhanced Multiservice Market and U.S. Army Pacific.
Lean Six Sigma relies on team work, and addressing concerns, eliminating old processes.

"I facilitated a project which brought together a team of people from various departments and different personalities," remarked Jaccaud. "During the training we were able to bridge gaps and create communications between departments that may otherwise not exist."

In April 2016, the team also hosted a black belt course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The students in the black belt class represented Madigan Army Medical Center, Puget Sound Enhanced Multiservice Market and the 7th Infantry Division.

During the summer months formal process improvement training took place for the first time at medical treatment facilities throughout the rest of Regional Health Command-Pacific's area of responsibility. More than 60 personnel at Medical Department Activity-Japan at Camp Zama, Brian Allgood Army Community Hospital in Korea, and Medical Department Activity-Alaska in Fairbanks were introduced to the Army Medical Command-developed lean leader courses.

Why Care About Understanding and Improving our Processes?

The challenges that face the military healthcare system include providing quality healthcare with an ever-increasing scrutiny on efficiency. According to the Institute of Medicine, quality is linked to the organization's service delivery approach or underlying systems of care; to achieve a different level of performance and improve quality, an organization's current system has to change. Improving quality begins first with understanding the healthcare delivery system and key processes. The Regional Health Command -Pacific and its direct reporting units are moving forward on their journeys as high reliability organizations embracing process improvement that seeks to understand and improve healthcare delivery, quality, and outcomes using a systematic, scientific, and disciplined framework that has proven success in healthcare and other industries.