Quality Function Deployment in Healthcare: A literature review and case study
Purpose – This article aims to provide a literature review on the use of quality function deployment (QFD) in healthcare and a case study in order to provide contextual knowledge as a means of improving applications of QFD in healthcare.
Design/methodology/approach – The literature search was done via Google Scholar, PubMed/MEDLINE, and Web of Science using the keywords “quality function deployment” and “healthcare”; focusing on journal publications and their related citations. The case study was done within a design for Six Sigma project (DFSS) in a Swedish hospital. Empirical data were collected through face-to-face interviews and project documentation.
Findings – Four potentials (better understanding of customers' needs and wants, identification of opportunities for process improvement, effective system thinking approach, and better communication and more transparent process) and three antecedents (understanding the customer, understanding the customer's needs, and finding ways to prioritize and translate those needs) of QFD application in healthcare were identified from the literature review. From the case study, the application of QFD leads to an increased awareness of a complex multiple-customer concept, traceability of the improvement strategies in a more structured way, and the formation of a new process organization. A time study at one clinic (cardiology) before and after the project within which the QFD was used showed that the time spent on prescription of medication has decreased by more than 20 percent. This has increased the time that doctors can spend with their patients.
Practical implications – This paper highlights the potentials and antecedents of applying QFD in healthcare from previous research. Furthermore, the practical findings obtained from applying QFD in the project can also provide some useful insights for practitioners.
Originality/value – The novel contribution is two-fold. First, it is the identification of the potentials and antecedents of using QFD in healthcare context. Second, it is the findings and learning from a practical application of QFD for improving a medication process in the hospital.
Design for Six Sigma (DFSS)
Quality function deployment (QFD)