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Characterization of Lean Six Sigma projects in healthcare settings: empirical research

Juliano Endrigo Sordan (Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos, Sao Carlos, Brazil)
Clésio Aparecido Marinho (Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos, Sao Carlos, Brazil)
Pedro Carlos Oprime (Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos, Sao Carlos, Brazil)
Márcio Lopes Pimenta (Universidade Federal de Uberlandia, Uberlandia, Brazil)
Roy Andersson (Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden)

Benchmarking: An International Journal

ISSN: 1463-5771

Article publication date: 19 December 2022




This paper aims to characterize a sample of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) projects in healthcare settings and discuss some specificities of operational excellence (OPEX) initiatives in hospitals and healthcare organizations in the USA.


A content analysis involving a sample of 23 documents shared by US hospitals was performed in order to achieve the research objectives. Such analysis was based on a conceptual framework developed from the literature review. It was also applied to a quantitative approach, including descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing and correspondence analysis that supported the research.


Most LSSH projects were focused on business transformation and strategic improvements. Simple techniques and tools were predominant such as descriptive statistics, process mapping, 5S and spaghetti charts, usually implemented by Green Belts and Black Belts through the define, measure, analyze, improve and control (DMAIC) method. In addition to the expressive findings reported, these projects' results have been aligned with lead time and operational cost reduction, quality improvement and capacity increase.

Research limitations/implications

The study adds knowledge to the OPEX literature by analyzing the Lean Six Sigma healthcare (LSSH) in hospitals and healthcare institutions in the USA. It also demonstrates that different approaches, such as the kaizen event and DMAIC project show different results according to some techniques and tools applied in the hospital environment.


The empirical evidence presented in this study provides scenery of the LSS practices in the healthcare settings, highlighting the implementation areas, outcomes, tools and techniques mostly used in the North American healthcare institutions.



Sordan, J.E., Marinho, C.A., Oprime, P.C., Pimenta, M.L. and Andersson, R. (2022), "Characterization of Lean Six Sigma projects in healthcare settings: empirical research", Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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