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 methodologies. Enabling you to practice as a Lean Six Sigma Green 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 is an interactive, interdisciplinary programme open to all healthcare staff. The content is based on the experiences of qualified Healthcare Professionals in centres of excellence in the USA, Canada , the UK and Ireland, and has developed a set of recommendations for creating effective process and quality improvement principles for healthcare application. These principles have been tested and have been found to be effective through over 30 iterations across 16 hospitals during a 24 month period. The module also builds on the delivery of 200 process and quality improvement projects in Ireland since 2012, led and delivered by programme graduates who are healthcare staff, within their own practice areas and institutions.

The module is based on our experience of the implementation of and research in the use of process and quality improvement methodologies in Irish healthcare contexts, in ways that are synergistic with Person-centred care and contribute to person-centred cultures. The team based learning approach focuses on healthcare-specific examples to demonstrate process improvement tools and techniques. This enables the student to lead on process and quality improvement initiatives within their own healthcare organisation. The programme has welcomed students from over 50 public and private healthcare organisations across all hospital groups and Community Healthcare Organisations (CHOs) in Ireland.

Integral to our approach to improvement is our aim to align our programmes with the principles of Person-centredmess that contribute to Person-centred cultures.

The programme will introduce students to the process improvement methodologies of Lean, Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma, Person-centred care, the Model for Improvement, and relevant leadership theories to enable them to lead hospital and other organisation-wide process and quality improvement projects. Successful participants will be awarded a Professional Certificate in Process Improvement in Health Systems by UCD (QQI Level 8; 10 ECTS credits).

The ECTS credits earned contribute to the credit requirements of the Graduate Diploma Process Improvement in Health Systems (Black Belt) (60 ECTS credits) and to the MSc Leadership, Innovation and Management for Healthcare (90 ECTS credits).

On completion the student will:

Understand the principles, philosophy and benefits of process improvement in healthcare

Gain proficiency in Lean, Six Sigma, the Model for Improvement and Person centred tools and practices

Appreciate the role of cross-functional teams in the successful roll-out of Process improvement

Distinguish between value-adding and non-value-adding elements in a process and categorize types of waste in the process

Identify and complete well-defined projects that solve real issues affecting an organisation

Generate sustainable improvements through active engagement of colleagues within the organisation using the Lean Six Sigma DMAIC process improvement methodology

Be able to apply technical and creative tools to solve process problems within their own organisation

Be able to work effectively as a leader of a cross-functional, problem-solving team

Have a good appreciation of the importance of effective communication in managing organisational change

Demonstrate, through successful completion of a project, that they understand the DMAIC approach and can deliver on financial targets agreed as part of the project

Entry requirements

Healthcare Professionals should have completed the Fundamentals of Process Improvement in Health Systems (or equivalent introduction to healthcare process improvement principles)with the Mater Lean Academy/UCD or another accredited provider - contact

We advise that appliants seek the support of their manager for their process improvement journey.

Application dates

Closing Date: 30th July 2021

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 as part of the MSc Leadership, Innovation and Management, and you require more information on module selection, contact the MSc Programe Director, Professor Martin McNamara directly


6 months part-time

The programme is currently delivered via a virtual learning platform

Half day Graduate orientation (Trimester 1)
5 class days (09:30 -16:30) over a 6 month period (Trimester 1/Trimester 2)
Final group presentation (duration 30 minutes)
Half day reference site visit (Trimester 2)*
*subject to Covid restrictions and guidelines

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  • Attendance type

    Part time

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