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Navicent Health Black Belt Improves Blood Draw Procedures, Reduces Costs

Study Published in ISE Magazine Discusses Use of Six Sigma to Improve Clinical Processes

ISE Magazine recently published the work of Paul Barkley, Black Belt and Director of Operations for Atrium Health Navicent Baldwin. The study, entitled "Six Sigma Sticks Patients Less," details Barkley's Six Sigma Black Belt capstone project, which improved emergency department processes for drawing blood cultures.

Barkley's project, which began in late 2014, focused on improving successful blood culture draw rates through process standardization and Lean efficiency. Through implementation, the Emergency Department at The Medical Center, Navicent Health - which performs an average 10,000 blood cultures annually - was able to improve its rates of successful blood draws, with less reliance on redraws.

"Improving our blood draw process through the tenants of Six Sigma was a win for patients, as well as the emergency department and our health system. Many patients fear needles, and if there is a problem with the initial blood collection, repeated cultures annoy the patient while also consuming staff time and resources. By improving our process, we are creating a better experience for the patient while also reducing costs to the health system," said Barkley.

Atrium Health Navicent implemented Lean/Six Sigma, a highly disciplined, data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating waste, improving outcomes, and delivering extraordinary service, in 2014. Barkley, who served as Operations Manager of Laboratory Services and other leadership positions at The Medical Center, Navicent Health for the past 26 years, now serves as Director of Operations for Atrium Health Navicent Baldwin in Milledgeville, Ga. Barkley earned his MBA from Mercer University, undergraduate degrees from Georgia Southern University and Augusta University, and is a registered Medical Technologist with the American Society for Clinical Pathology. He is also a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

"Lean Six Sigma is applicable to global industries ranging from auto manufacturing and defense to healthcare. The unique aspect of Lean Six Sigma in healthcare is that process improvement directly improves people's health and wellbeing. As exhibited in this study, Lean Six Sigma improves patient care while saving time and resources. Black Belts at Atrium Health Navicent are continually seeking new avenues for implementation as we improve our processes. Efforts such as these are core to the work we are doing at Atrium Health Navicent, and will be critical in helping our health system - as well as many others nationwide - prepare for future relevance and value-based care," said Dr. Ninfa M. Saunders, President and CEO of Atrium Health Navicent.

Barkley's project has been expanded beyond the Emergency Center at The Medical Center, Navicent Health and implemented in other departments throughout the health system. The study may be replicated in other healthcare facilities, directly impacting the industry.

To view Barkley's article, please visit this link

ISE Magazine is a monthly publication of the Institute of Industrial and System Engineers and serves a diverse readership of professionals and students with a common interest of industrial engineering. As a leading voice in the industry, ISE Magazine strives to provide useful, timely and thought-provoking content to assist readers as they enhance their professional capabilities, improve organizational performance and develop the profession.

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent was incorporated on November 17, 1994, as a nonprofit corporation whose primary purpose is to coordinate The Medical Center, Navicent Health and other affiliated entities in their mission of providing a comprehensive continuum of high quality, reasonably priced healthcare services to the region. Atrium Health Navicent has 970 beds for medical, surgical, rehabilitation and hospice purposes. The health system includes The Medical Center, Navicent Health, a nationally recognized tertiary teaching hospital; Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children's Hospital, the region's only dedicated pediatric hospital; Atrium Health Navicent Baldwin and Medical Center of Peach County, Atrium Health Navicent, both rural critical access hospitals; Rehabilitation Hospital, Atrium Health Navicent, the region's oldest and most experienced rehabilitation provider; Pine Pointe, Atrium Health Navicent, which provides palliative and hospice care in homes and in its facility; Carlyle Place, Atrium Health Navicent, the area's first continuing care retirement community; Navicent Health Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Atrium Health Navicent; as well as diagnostic and home care services. For more information, please visit