Statistical Thinking in Health Care

Case Study 1: Statistical Thinking in Health Care

Read the following case study.

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!

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
“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

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
  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

The specific course learning outcomes associated with this assignment

  • Describe how organizations use statistical thinking to be more
  • Apply the basic principles of statistical thinking to business
  • 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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