Getting it right from the start is always a critical issue when designing process-based solutions. DFSS or Design For Six Sigma is an approach that companies are starting to use in applying the rigors of Six Sigma to their product management approach. This allows them to leverage proven fundamentals using a DMAIC framework. (DMAIC = Design, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control)
DFSS is built around a couple of Six Sigma fundamentals such as the VOC (Voice of the Customer) and the CTQ (Critical to Quality) framework (example. Understanding root cause of issues in your process allows you to start finding solutions for them.
And, however you approach this, it is critical to understand your value stream (i.e., where is value created) and have a statistically valid approach for capturing data and rigorously reviewing and improving the process (i.e., continuous improvement).
The other thing that all this Six Sigma talk makes me think of is an automation of process which can be seen in a lot of the BPMS (Business Process Management Systems) which exist. These process based applications can be created as flexible tools that sit above (i.e., abstracted from your legacy systems) to run using an event-based architecture (i.e., data triggers) or SOA (service oriented architecture).
Why do you care as a member or patient reading this? Because you hate things that don’t flow smoothly. This approach is supposed to begin with the customer, understand their needs, develop a process with minimal potential quality or failure points, measure and continuously improve the process, and then automate the process with the flexibility of making dynamic changes as the needs and market changes.
Why do you care as a healthcare enterprise? Quality is always an issue. As the economic times squeeze everyone, it is going to be critical to find efficient ways of improving processes and automating processes to drive better results without sacrificing quality.