Understanding and Utilizing Lean and Six Sigma in the Histology Laboratory

(based on 89 customer ratings)

Author: Joelle Weaver MAOM, HTL(ASCP), QIHC
Reviewer: Dawn Schneider, HT(ASCP)

This course will introduce the methodology of Lean Six Sigma and will supply examples and ideas of how these methods can be used to examine and improve the processes within your histology laboratory.

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Continuing Education Credits


  • Identify the historical context which has led United States (US) businesses, including healthcare, to the development and application of Lean and Six Sigma.
  • Discuss how Lean and Six Sigma methods can help in identifying process bottle-necks and error prone steps.
  • Define the DMAIC process and its key components.
  • Discuss implementation, planning, and team dynamics as they relate to the success of any Lean-Six Sigma project.
  • State examples of applications of the Lean and Six Sigma methodologies to the histology laboratory.
  • Discuss how Lean methods can support process efficiency and reduce variation leading to potential errors within histology processes.

Course Outline

  • Introduction
      • Background Information
    • What is Lean?
      • All About Lean
      • Key Principles of Lean
      • Value: According to the Customer
      • Supplier-Input-Output-Customer (SIPOC) Diagram
      • Process Mapping
      • Process Analysis for Value
      • Nature of Work Criteria
      • One Failure Type- Wait times and Delays
      • Value in a Lean and Six Sigma organizaiton is defined by whom?
      • The process lead time is the time it should take to complete all the process steps minus any wait times or rework.
    • What is Six Sigma?
      • All about Six Sigma
      • Six Sigma Improvement Model
      • Define Phase
      • Measure Phase
      • Analyze Phase
      • Improve Phase
      • Control Phase
      • Six Sigma Methods to Reduce Defects and Variation
      • Process Variation
      • Standardization
      • In Six Sigma methodology, what does the term variation refer to?
      • In Lean and Six Sigma business methods, it is the market competitors who determine the specific requirements of a product or service that your organiz...
  • Identifying Errors and Reducing Their Frequency with Lean and Six Sigma
      • How Should We Identify Anatomic Pathology & Histology errors?
      • Root Cause Analysis (RCA)
      • Ishikawa or Fish Bone Diagrams
      • Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA)
      • Project Selection for Lean and Six Sigma
      • Categorizing Error Types in Histology
      • Applying Root Causes to Correcting and Preventing Process Defects
      • Please select from the list below the process correction method which is identified by the Japanese words for "mistake-proofing?"
      • Which process analysis tool uses the risk priority number (RPN) to assign priorities that require the attention of the team in improvement interventio...
  • The Value of Lean and Six Sigma
      • Competitive Advantages Provided by Lean and Six Sigma
      • Key Gains from Lean and Six Sigma for Improving Operational Efficiency and Effectiveness
      • Role of Benchmarks and Setting Targets In Sustaining Performance
      • Process Control: Sustaining Improvements
      • Which of the responses below are gains in operational efficiency and effectiveness that can be realized through Six Sigma methodology? (Select all tha...
      • To what performance metric or measure is the "SMART" acronym applied?
    • Organizational Culture and Lean Six Sigma
      • Effect on Organizational Culture
      • Characteristics of a Lean-Six Sigma Organizational Culture
      • Team Dynamics and Performance
      • Negative Team Interactions
      • Organizational culture identifies ONLY the levels of management and to whom each employee reports to.
      • A prominent characterisitic of a Lean-Six Sigma organization's culture is a unifying goal of focus on the customer.
  • Application of Lean Processing to the Histology Laboratory
      • Batch Versus Continuous Flow
      • Study on Batch versus Continuous Workflow
      • From the list below, select TWO negative effects observed with batch processing:
  • References
      • References

Additional Information

Level of instruction: Introductory to intermediate

Intended audience: This course is intended for histology bench technicians and technologists, supervisors, and administrators.

Author information: Joelle Weaver MAOM, HTL(ASCP), QIHC is a certified histotechnologist with a broad range of practical histology experience within the clinical histopathology setting. She has received qualification in immunohistochemistry from the American Society for Clinical Pathology and Green Belt certification from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. Joelle's bachelor's degree was received from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio and her master's degree was awarded from Bluffton University in Bluffton, Ohio. She is a graduate of a NAACLS accredited histotechnology program, where she also served as a lead instructor, education coordinator, and program director. Joelle is currently a senior histotechnologist for PGXL Laboratories in Louisville, Kentucky.

Reviewer information: Dawn Schneider, HT(ASCP) is the lead histotechnician at Howard Young Medical Center, Woodruff, Wisconsin, where she has worked for the past 21 years. Additional responsibilities include serving as the lead laboratory information services (LIS) coordinator and involvement in several Lean and Six Sigma teams in her organization. Dawn is also very active in the Wisconsin State Histology Society, of which she is currently the president.

Course description: This course will introduce the methodology of Lean Six Sigma and will supply examples and ideas of how these methods can be used to examine and improve the processes within your histology laboratory.

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This course is part of:
Reduction of Process Lead time and Cycle time with Technology
Examples of WASTE or MUDA
High Level Process Map of Histology with Wait Times
improve phase