Describe how organizations use statistical thinking to be more competitive.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.
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 pharmacistâ€™s assistant in the HMOâ€™s pharmacy, and his manager, Juan de Pacotilla, was about to be fired. Juanâ€™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!
â€œBen, I really need your help! If I canâ€™t show some major improvement or at least a solid plan by next month, Iâ€™m history.â€
â€œIâ€™ll be glad to help, Juan, but what can I do? Iâ€™m just a pharmacistâ€™s assistant.â€
â€œI donâ€™t care what your job title is; I think youâ€™re just the person who can get this done. I realize Iâ€™ve been too far removed from day-to-day operations in the pharmacy, but you work there every day. Youâ€™re in a much better position to find out how to fix the problem. Just tell me what to do, and Iâ€™ll do it.â€
â€œBut what about the statistical consultant you hired to analyze the data on inaccurate prescriptions?â€
â€œBen, to be honest, Iâ€™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 donâ€™t want to predict the mistakes, I want to eliminate them! I donâ€™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 â€˜change points in the time series,â€™ whatever that means. But get this, he will only identify the change points and send me a list; he says itâ€™s my job to figure out what they mean and how to respond. I donâ€™t know much about statistics â€” the only thing I remember from my course in college is that it was the worst course I ever tookâ€“ but Iâ€™m becoming convinced that it actually doesnâ€™t have much to offer in solving real problems. Youâ€™ve just gone through this statistical thinking course, though, so maybe you can see something I canâ€™t. To me, statistical thinking sounds like an oxymoron. I realize itâ€™s a long shot, but I was hoping you could use this as the project you need to officially complete the course.â€
â€œI see your point, Juan. I felt the same way, too. This course was interesting, though, because it didnâ€™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.â€
â€œIt sounds like thereâ€™s no hope, Ben!â€
â€œI wouldnâ€™t say that at all, Juan. Itâ€™s just that there may be no quick fix we can do by ourselves in the pharmacy. Let me explain how Iâ€™m thinking about this and how I would propose attacking the problem using what I just learned in the statistical thinking course.â€
Source: G. C. Britz, D. W. Emerling, L. B. Hare, R. W. Hoerl, & J. E. Shade. â€œHow to Teach Others to Apply Statistical Thinking.â€ Quality Progress (June 1997): 67â€“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. Youâ€™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:
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