Health Systems - Process Improvement in Health Systems

Process and Quality improvement in healthcare using the Model for Improvement, Lean, Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma, and Person-centred improvement sciences. Enabling you to practice as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt within the Health System.

The seeds of process and quality improvement were sown by many innovators but Toyota is credited as being the forefather of the Lean process improvement methodology as we know it today. Simply put, for healthcare staff, Lean means finding the time to do the work you have to do, in the time you have to do it. Lean thinking is not typically associated with healthcare, due to its association with the motor industry. But the principles of Lean management can, in fact, work in health care in much the same way they do in other industries. Internationally, many healthcare organisations are successfully using Lean thinking to streamline processes, reduce cost, and most importantly improve the quality, experience of, and timely delivery of services to patients. Six Sigma simply means a measure of quality that strives for near perfection. Six Sigma is a disciplined, data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects and unwanted variation in any process – and works particularly well in use with Lean. Person-centredness is, in ascendancy as a particular type of approach and culture that applies to everyone in the organisation, staff, patients and families alike. Person-centredness in healthcare is understood as the practice of forming and fostering healthful relationships between service users, families and care providers with the intent of improving and innovating the experience of healthcare for all.

When applied rigorously and throughout an entire healthcare organisation, Lean, Six Sigma and Person-centred improvement methodologies can have a positive impact on patient, relative and staff experience of care, and on outcomes. While sceptics are right when they say, "Patients are not cars" ,healthcare is, in fact, delivered in extraordinarily complex organisations, with thousands of interacting processes. Many aspects of Lean and Six Sigma methodologies therefore can and do apply to the processes of delivering care. Our UCD programme Graduates have applied Lean Six Sigma and Person-centred approaches successfully to improve experiences and outcomes for staff and patients in areas as diverse as Stroke Thrombolysis, Stroke Therapy, Patient Scheduling, Procurement, Data coding, ward and unit design, Rehabilitation, Hip Fracture Pathways, Pharmacy, Pathology, Radiology, Cardiology and Community Health.

This interdisciplinary programme builds on the Professional Certificate Process Improvement in Health Systems and is designed to prepare the student for implementing and leading on a process or quality improvement throughout their healthcare organisation. It will lay the groundwork for building a healthcare transformation by training the student in researching, implementing, innovating and leading on change in their own organisation and in Lean, Six Sigma and Person-centred methodologies. The programme currently welcomes students from over 50 healthcare institutions across all hospital groups and Community Healthcare Organisations in Ireland.

Integral to our approach is to synergise Lean, Six Sigma and Person-centred approaches to process and quality improvement and to ensure that our programmes align with the principles of person-centredness and contribute to Person-centred Cultures.

The 40 ECTS credits earned contribute to the credit requirements of the MSc Leadership, Innovation and Management for Healthcare (90 ECTS credits).

Indicative learning outcomes: on completion the student will be able to:

lead on process and quality improvement initiatives as an engaged and informed process improvement practitioner

demonstrate and teach process improvement principles, methods, and tools to optimise care delivery and support processes

utilise advanced Lean Six Sigma methodologies and tools to optimise care delivery and support processes

be a skilled practitioner of implementation science and researching change in their own organisation

carry out healthcare research to support and underpin organisational process and quality improvement projects
manage complex healthcare processes

evidence knowledge and understanding of problem solving principles, tools and techniques to deliver project outcomes

demonstrate the ability to analyse and draw conclusions from data through the use of analytical and statistical techniques

demonstrate, through developing and leading a solo project understanding of the effectiveness of the Lean Six Sigma DMAIC methodology in Healthcare

deliver Value Add for patients, staff and customers

demonstrate the ability to overcome resistance to change in an organisation through effective communication with and influencing of key stakeholders utilising innovative and robust approches to process improvement

Entry requirements

Healthcare Professionals should have completed the Professional Certificate Process Improvement in Health Systems or equivalent with UCD or another accredited provider to Level 8.

Application dates

Closing Date: 30 June 2022

Completed applications are reviewed on a rolling basis and programmes will close once they are filled. We advise you to apply as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

If taking this Programme or a component module as part of the MSc Leadership, Innovation and Management, you can contact the MSc Programe Director, Professor Martin McNamara directly for advise on module choice


1 year

The training is currently delivered via blended learning and will be delivered by a virtual learning platform in Trimester 1.

Half day Graduate Orientation (Trimester 1)
9 days lecture attendance (Trimesters 1-3)
Final Project presentation (duration 1 hour - Trimester 3)
Time for self-directed learning, research, data analysis and Project development

More details
  • Qualifications

    Graduate Certificate

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Daytime

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    Course provider