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Case Study 1: Statistical Thinking in Health Care

Read the following case study.

Ben  Davis had just completed an intensive course in Statistical Thinking  for Business Improvement, which was offered to all employees of a large  health maintenance organization. There was no time to celebrate,  however, because he was already under a lot of pressure. Ben works as a  pharmacist's assistant in the HMO's pharmacy, and his manager, Juan de  Pacotilla, was about to be fired. Juan's dismissal appeared to be  imminent due to numerous complaints, and even a few lawsuits over  inaccurate prescriptions. Juan now was asking Ben for his assistance in  trying to resolve the problem, preferably yesterday!

"Ben, I really need your help! If I can't show some major improvement or at least a solid plan by next month, I'm history."
"I'll be glad to help, Juan, but what can I do? I'm just a pharmacist's assistant."
"I  don't care what your job title is; I think you're just the person who  can get this done. I realize I've been too far removed from day-to-day  operations in the pharmacy, but you work there every day. You're in a  much better position to find out how to fix the problem. Just tell me  what to do, and I'll do it."
"But what about the statistical consultant you hired to analyze the data on inaccurate prescriptions?"
"Ben,  to be honest, I'm really disappointed with that guy. He has spent two  weeks trying to come up with a new modeling approach to predict weekly  inaccurate prescriptions. I tried to explain to him that I don't want to  predict the mistakes, I want to eliminate them! I don't think I got  through, however, because he said we need a month of additional data to  verify the model, and then he can apply a new method he just read about  in a journal to identify 'change points in the time series,' whatever  that means. But get this, he will only identify the change points and  send me a list; he says it's my job to figure out what they mean and how  to respond. I don't know much about statistics -- the only thing I  remember from my course in college is that it was the worst course I  ever took-- but I'm becoming convinced that it actually doesn't have  much to offer in solving real problems. You've just gone through this  statistical thinking course, though, so maybe you can see something I  can't. To me, statistical thinking sounds like an oxymoron. I realize  it's a long shot, but I was hoping you could use this as the project you  need to officially complete the course."

"I see your point,  Juan. I felt the same way, too. This course was interesting, though,  because it didn't focus on crunching numbers. I have some ideas about  how we can approach making improvements in prescription accuracy, and I  think this would be a great project. We may not be able to solve it  ourselves, however. As you know, there is a lot of finger-pointing going  on; the pharmacists blame sloppy handwriting and incomplete  instructions from doctors for the problem; doctors blame pharmacy  assistants like me who actually do most of the computer entry of the  prescriptions, claiming that we are incompetent; and the assistants tend  to blame the pharmacists for assuming too much about our knowledge of  medical terminology, brand names, known drug interactions, and so on."
"It sounds like there's no hope, Ben!"

"I  wouldn't say that at all, Juan. It's just that there may be no quick  fix we can do by ourselves in the pharmacy. Let me explain how I'm  thinking about this and how I would propose attacking the problem using  what I just learned in the statistical thinking course."

Source:  G. C. Britz, D. W. Emerling, L. B. Hare, R. W. Hoerl, & J. E. Shade.  "How to Teach Others to Apply Statistical Thinking." Quality Progress  (June 1997): 67--80.

Assuming the role of Ben Davis, write a three to four (3-4) page  paper in which you apply the approach discussed in the textbook to this  problem. You'll have to make some assumptions about the processes used  by the HMO pharmacy. Also, please use the Internet and / or Strayer LRC  to research articles on common problems or errors that pharmacies face.  Your paper should address the following points:

  1. Develop a process map about the prescription filling process for  HMO's pharmacy, in which you specify the key problems that the HMO's  pharmacy might be experiencing. Next, use the supplier, input, process  steps, output, and customer (SIPOC) model to analyze the HMO pharmacy's  business process.
  2. Analyze the process map and SIPOC model to identify possible main  root causes of the problems. Next, categorize whether the main root  causes of the problem are special causes or common causes. Provide a  rationale for your response.
  3. Suggest the main tools that you would use and the data that you  would collect in order to analyze the business process and correct the  problem. Justify your response.
  4. Propose one (1) solution to the HMO pharmacy's on-going problem(s)  and propose one (1) strategy to measure the aforementioned solution.  Provide a rationale for your response.
  5. Use at least two (2) quality references. Note: Wikipedia and other Websites do not qualify as academic resources.

Your assignment must follow these formatting requirements:

  • Be typed, double spaced, using Times New Roman font (size 12), with  one-inch margins on all sides; citations and references must follow APA  format. Check with your professor for any additional instructions.
  • Include a cover page containing the title of the assignment, the  student's name, the professor's name, the course title, and the date.  The cover page and the reference page are not included in the required  assignment page length.

The specific course learning outcomes associated with this assignment are:

  • Describe how organizations use statistical thinking to be more competitive.
  • Apply the basic principles of statistical thinking to business processes.
  • Apply the SIPOC model to identify OFIs in business processes.
  • Use technology and information resources to research issues in business process improvement.
  • Write clearly and concisely about business process improvement using proper writing mechanics.

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