Written by Andy Trainer– Tue 11 Dec 2012
An American man who was diagnosed with diabetes used his experience with Six Sigma to control the disease.
William Howell discovered he had Type 2 diabetes and was understandably concerned - potential health risks from diabetes if left unmanaged include blindness, strokes and heart-attacks.
However, William was a Quality professional and was aware of Six Sigma's framework for removing defects. By viewing his undesired symptoms as defects, he was able to use Six Sigma to bring his diabetes under control. You can read excerpts from William's book about managing diabetes here.
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Howell decided to divide his diabetes plan into the five DMAIC stages - define, measure, analyse, improve and control.
If you want to find out more about DMAIC and other Six Sigma terms, why not download our Lean Six Sigma Glossary.
This is how he used each stage of DMAIC to manage his illness:
Less than two months after his initial diagnosis, William Howell managed to reach his initial target of reducing his blood glucose level to below 125 mg/dl.
Continuing with the process, he also ends up achieving his other targets - he weaned himself off any blood glucose controlling medicine and saw a reduction in almost all of his symptoms.
Whilst much of this success should rightly be attributed to the help given to him by medical professionals, Howell's use of a Six Sigma framework clearly aided him in his own controlling of the aspects of the disease he was responsible for, such as diet.
Six Sigma frameworks can clearly be useful outside of business despite its origins because as Howell himself says: “With the use of simple statistical methods and simple graphs, diabetes and many other diseases can be controlled.”