By: Kaitlin Hixson
Oklahoma City Indian Clinic’s (OKCIC) continuous improvement culture is alive and well with a range of activities. During 2022, staff engaged in numerous health care continuous improvement activities, including: one-hour white belt trainings, one-day yellow belt trainings, business process management trainings and several process improvements that range from small department level activities to larger clinic-wide activities. In 2022, OKCIC’s Quality department trained 132 staff members to achieve white belt status and 62 to yellow belt status.
What is continuous improvement?
OKCIC utilizes lean six sigma when planning continuous improvement trainings and implementing processes throughout the clinic. Lean six sigma is an industry-recognized program that provides organizations a systematic road map for improving processes without increasing costs. It consists of numerous certification levels, including white belt, yellow belt, green belt, black belt, master black belt and champion. OKCIC currently has all staff trained as white belts, 174 yellow belts, 30 active green belts and one black belt.
What is white belt?
White belt training is intended to be an entry-level class that exposes employees to the fundamental understanding of waste in the workplace. This training is a simple exercise that exposes the employee to typical workstream waste. In addition, new employees are introduced to the different types of workplace waste, including transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, over processing, over production and defects. White belt is intended to be introductory in nature and inducts new employees to the culture of continuous improvement. Once white belt training is complete, employees are offered an optional continuation of education with the yellow belt class.
What is yellow belt?
The yellow belt course is intended to take a deeper dive into process maturity and process measurement. Students engage in hands-on activities that are fun, but also educational. During yellow belt, they are introduced to push, one piece flow and pull systems. They are also introduced to the Baldrige framework and how process maturity drives repeatable outcomes, which are good for patients, staff and OKCIC as a whole.
What are the other belts?
Green belts understand advanced analysis and assist in solving process problems that affect quality and efficiency. Green belts lead process improvement projects and assist black belts with data collection, validation and analysis.
These classes are a great foundation for participants to feel confident in joining process improvement projects. At OKCIC, staff are continuously improving by seeking out ways to improve and engage in the persistent pursuit of waste elimination. In 2022, there were a total of 27 process improvement projects either completed or carried into the next year for additional phases. The pictured graph shows the wastes each OKCIC project focused on.
OKCIC is committed to fostering a lean-driven culture within the organization through development and training of staff. Development of staff is one of OKCIC’s greatest accomplishments because, in the end, lean is a people-based system and without OKCIC’s people it would fail. The clinic’s vision is to be the national model for American Indian health care, and this is just one of the many efforts OKCIC makes to improve the experience for patients.