# MAT 510 Case Study Statistical Thinking in Health Care

March 13, 2016

Question
MAT 510 Case Study Statistical Thinking in Health Care
Week 4 Case Study 1 – Submit here
Students, please view the "Submit a Clickable Rubric Assignment" in the Student Center.
Instructors, training on how to grade is within the Instructor Center.
Case Study 1: Statistical Thinking in Health Care
Due Week 4 and worth 150 points

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

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