Application of Lean Sigma to the Audiology Clinic at a Large Academic Center

Matthew G. Huddle, Amy Tirabassi, Laurie Turner, Emily Lee, Kathryn Ries, Sandra Y. Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective To apply Lean Sigma - a quality improvement strategy to eliminate waste and reduce variation and defects - to improve audiology scheduling and utilization in a large tertiary care referral center. The project goals included an increase in utilization rates of audiology block time and a reduction in appointment lead time. Study Design Prospective quality improvement study. Setting Academic tertiary care center. Subjects All patients scheduling audiology clinic visits July 2013 to July 2014. Methods Value stream mapping was performed for the audiology scheduling process, and wasteful steps were identified for elimination. Interventions included a 2-week block release, audiology template revision, and reduction of underutilized blocks. Schedule utilization and lead time for new patient diagnostic audiogram were measured for 5 months postintervention and compared with 5 months preintervention. Overall, 2995 preintervention and 3714 postintervention booked appointments were analyzed. Results Block utilization increased from 77% to 90% after intervention (P <.0001). Utilization of joint-with-provider visits increased from 39% to 67% (P <.0001). Booked appointments increased from 2995 to 3714, with joint-with-provider booked appointments increasing from 317 to 1193. Appointment lead time averaged 24 days postintervention, compared with 29 days preintervention (P =.06). Average monthly relative value units measured 13,321 preintervention and 14,778 postintervention (P =.09). Conclusion Lean Sigma techniques were successfully used to increase appointment block utilization and streamline scheduling practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)715-719
Number of pages5
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2016


  • Lean
  • Six Sigma
  • clinic efficiency
  • clinic performance
  • outpatient clinic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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