MAT510: Case Study 1: Statistical Thinking in Health
CareMAT510: 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
“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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Use at least two (2) quality references. Note: Wikipedia and other Websites do not qualify as academic
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
Write clearly and concisely about business process improvement using proper writing
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