Prescription filling process for HMO’s pharmacy

Prescription filling process for HMO’s pharmacy

Ben Davis had just completed an intensive course in Statistical Thinking for Business Improvement offered to all large health maintenance organization employees. However, there was no time to celebrate 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, is about to be fired.

Juan’s dismissal appeared 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; 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, honestly, I’m disappointed with that guy. He has spent two weeks developing a new modeling approach to predict weekly inaccurate prescriptions. I tried to explain to him that I didn’t want to predict the mistakes; I wanted to eliminate them!

However, I don’t think I got through because he said we need a month of additional data to verify the model. 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 college course is that it was the worst course I ever took– but I’m becoming convinced that it doesn’t have much to offer in solving real problems.

You’ve just gone through this statistical thinking course, 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 complete the course officially.”

“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 improving 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 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 three to four (3-4) page papers 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 Strayer LRC to research articles on common problems or errors that pharmacies face. Your paper should address the following points:

  • 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 problem’s main root causes are special or common causes. Provide a rationale for your response.
  • Suggest the main tools you would use and the data you would collect to analyze the business process and correct the problem. Justify your response.
  • Propose one (1) solution to the HMO pharmacy’s ongoing problem(s) and propose one (1) strategy to measure the solution above. Provide a rationale for your response.
  • Use at least two (2) quality references. Note: Wikipedia and other Websites do not qualify as academic resources.