Application of Lean Six Sigma in conservative dentistry: an action research at an Indian dental college

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Research Article

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TQM Journal


Purpose: The article evaluates the obstacles, lessons learned and managerial implications of deploying Lean Six Sigma (LSS) in a dental college hospital in India. Design/methodology/approach: The work adopts the action research (AR) methodology to establish a case study, which is carried out using the LSS define–measure–analyze–improve–control (DAMIC) approach in a dental college. It uses LSS tools to enhance the productivity and performance of the Conservative Dentistry Department of a dental college and to unravel the obstacles and success factors in applying it to the education and healthcare sector together. Findings: The root cause for high turn-around time (TAT) is ascertained using LSS tools and techniques. The effective deployment of the solutions to the root causes of variation assists the dental college to reduce the TAT of the Conservative Dentistry process from an average of 63.9 min–36.5 min (i.e. 42.9% improvement), and the process Standard Deviation (SD) was reduced from 2.63 to 2 min. This, in turn, raises the sigma level from 0.48 to 3.23, a noteworthy successful story for this dental college. Research limitations/implications: While the results and recommendations of this research are focused on a single case study, it is to be noted that the case study is carried out with new users of LSS tools and techniques, especially with the assistance of interns. This indicates the applicability of LSS in dental colleges; thus, the adopted modality can be further refined to fit India's education and hospital sector together. Originality/value: This article explains the implementation of LSS from an aspiring user viewpoint to assist dental colleges and policymakers in improving competitiveness. In addition, the medical education sector can introduce an LSS course in the existing programme to leverage the potential of this methodology to bring synergy and collaborative research between data-based thinking and the medical field based on the findings of this study. The most important contribution of this article is the illustration of the design of experiments (DOE) in the dental college process.

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