WEEK 7 Course Project

HSM 544 Health Policy & Economics

WEEK 7 Course Project

Introduction

This course contains a Course Project for which you will identify and solve a healthcare problem. Assuming you have been listening to the news or following talk shows for the last 6 months (more like 2 decades), you know that healthcare is a key and contentious issue in America. There is no shortage of concerns, nor are there approaches on how to best solve them. (Some people call healthcare, from a problem standpoint, a target-rich environment.) The Course Project requires you to identify a problem and, using the below model, arrive at a recommended solution along with its implementation. The Course Project is a key academic activity. Because of its importance, you may need to commit time throughout the course, beginning with developing a topic in Week 2, to successfully complete the project.

Below is a review of the academic expectations for the project, examples of how to write an effective problem statement, and evaluation criteria.

Important!

Remember, your Course Project is due in Week 7 but your choice of topic is due in Week 2. Don’t forget to submit your assignments!

Academic Requirements

Format: The two main content sections are (a) the title page and table of contents (noncontent pages) and (b) the body (content sections 1–7 listed below).

Content: Write a problem-solving, decision-making research paper that is no fewer than 8 pages and no more than 12 pages of content (body of paper) and double spaced. It should be based on your chosen subject, in which you convince your readers to support your recommendation.

Details on format and content follow.

Category Sections (Headings and Subheadings Within Paper) Points Description

Organization and Formatting

Title Page

A quality paper will include its title page and all content sections, beginning with an executive summary through references.

The content will be properly subdivided into the required headings and subheadings (bold and in caps).

In a quality paper, each step in the problem-solving model will be complete with relevant content that meets the content expectations for that section; a thoughtful problem statement, clearly researched and defined, with relevant and reasonable problem-solving recommendations, assessed in ways that produced a constructive solution and implementation plan is the expectation.

Managing communication flow is key to effective writing.

Content Content Sections

Executive Summary, 15 points

Problem Statement, 25 points

Literature Review, 30 points

Problem Analysis, 40 points

Possible Solutions, 30 points

Solution and Its Implementation, 25 points

Justification, 20 points

185

A quality paper will have significant scope and depth of research to support thoughts, statements, concepts, and conclusions.

Relevant illustration or examples are encouraged.

Use of external source material is required.

A quality paper will employ use of sound reasoning and logic to reinforce conclusions.

Documentation References 15

A quality paper will include proper citations and references.

Grammar and Composition

(Entire paper) 15

A quality paper will be free of any spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors.

Sentences and paragraphs will be clear, concise, and factually correct.

Total 235

A quality paper will meet or excess all of the above requirements.

Executive Summary (Content Section 1)

Once your paper is completed, you will need to summarize the paper’s main points for your reader. Explain succinctly the problem or issue you are writing about, along with a summary of your paper’s main points. Include the solutions offered along with your identified best solution and plan and how it will solve the identified problem or issue. The purpose is to provide the reader (in this case, your professor) an overview of the main points in the paper. The maximum length of an executive summary is one page, single spaced.

Problem Statement (Content Section 2)

Identify and clearly state the problem that needs improvement or is not meeting expectations. Remember that what appears to be the healthcare problem or issue may actually be just a symptom of a bigger problem: Dig deep to be sure that you have identified the real problem or problems. If there appears to be more than one problem or issue, decide if they are separate or related issues. State the problem in the form of a single, clear problem statement (required). A problem statement contains and identifies the focus issue that the rest of the model addresses. It presents an existing adverse outcome or concern. For the Course Project, the problem statement can be a statement or a question. The following is an example of a national-level focus (do not use it): “The un- and underinsured receive 45% of their healthcare through expensive rates (two to three times higher than standard delivery systems) for emergency eepartments (ED), adversely impacting the ability of EDs to meet their quality service standards.” The following is an example of a healthcare facility focus (do not use it): “How can healthcare access be improved? Our lack of an automated information management system is adversely impacting our ability to compete; how can we achieve automated information management?”

Please note, there should be no more than one paragraph in this section with a clear problem statement easily identified in that paragraph. The problem statement should be underlined and in bold letters. There will be a deduction if more than one paragraph is used.

Constructing an Adequate Problem Statement

Leaders and managers must be clear in their definition of an issue, concern, or problem to achieve an effective outcome. Decision making is not just about problem solving, but problem solving outcomes are often the measure of decision making. Although problem solving has many steps, the process depends upon an adequate definition of the problem. Keep in mind if outcomes have not been clearly articulated, those tasked with planning and implementing actions directed at achieving new outcomes will be less than efficient and effective, and managers will be unable to measure performance quality against new outcomes.

An effective problem statement should contain the following two elements: an adverse outcome and suggested causal factors.

Below are examples of an adverse outcome.

Cost of healthcare is rising faster than inflation.

Access to healthcare in rural areas is lower than in urban areas.

Research indicates the quality of care in the United States has declined over the last 2 decades.

Below are examples of relevant factors to the above adverse outcomes.

There is a greater use of unnecessary care, the uninsured are being provided care via the most costly delivery methods (emergency departments), or the cost of health insurance is rising.

Rural areas lack sufficient numbers of healthcare providers, or rural areas lack specialists.

Physicians do not spend enough time with patients to arrive at a correct diagnosis, or physicians perform unnecessary services that needlessly expose patients to less than high-quality outcomes.

Literature Review (Content Section 3)

Present what you discovered in your search of the literature. Review theories, concepts, and studies discussed in class and in our textbook, and review what other writers or researchers have to say about the subject of your analysis. In short, demonstrate an understanding of the literature and apply it sensibly to the problem. This is not a course in applied commonsense; however, such practical intelligence is important, especially in the application stage. A literature review is like playing a video game in which you are in a chamber with many doors. As you open each door, you uncover clues to help you progress to the next level. Similarly, in a literature review, your objective is to open the doors that can point the way to solving your business problem. Begin your literature review with a broad look at your field of interest, then narrow your focus until you zero in on the essential issue or issues of concern. Please note, a literature review is a required element of this assignment. At least 10 resources are required, beyond the textbook and course readings, to ensure the effectiveness of your research. Be sure to list them in the bibliography. A suggestion is to begin your literature survey by accessing Keller’s online library at www.keller.edu (Links to an external site.).

Problem Analysis (Content Section 4)

This section should provide a detailed analysis of the causes of the problems or issues you identified in Section 2. A major objective is to clearly illustrate how you are using course concepts (as well as what you learned from your literature review) to better understand the causes of the problems or issues. Show that you are applying course material! The purpose of this analysis is to make clear the focus issue (problem). It narrows the focus from the understanding created in the Literature Review into a clear problem definition, which is the detail that the problem-solving effort is to correct.

Possible Solutions (Content Section 5)

List, number, and describe at least three alternative solutions that could be appropriate methods to solve the identified problem or issue. Number each solution to make them clear to the reader (required). Be sure these solutions are logical, based on your analysis, and that each would effectively treat the problem, not the symptoms. Also discuss the anticipated outcomes (positive and negative) of implementing each of the possible solutions you identified. This is a probability assessment, meaning your assessment of the alternatives’ ability to solve the problem and at what cost. This assessment should transition to the solution section, meaning the solution should be the one you assessed as having the best chance to solve the problem within any cost constraints (key to the selection process).

Solution and Its Implementation (Content Section 6)

Outline your recommended solution to the problem or issue. (It will be one of the alternatives explored in Section 5 or a combination of those alternatives.) State your solution clearly and specifically. Describe exactly what should be done; describe how it should be done, including by whom, with whom, and in what sequence; explain when actions should begin; and estimate cost and means of payment. List each bold and underlined word and then discuss (required).

Here are key points to keep in mind as you write this section.

Have I indicated an awareness of the problem and of implementation (i.e., the what and how aspect)?

Have I been specific enough ( i.e., when and cost)? (A specific solution will state what style is most appropriate for the situation and how you will attempt to the have the manager realize the appropriate style.)

What aspects of the problem remain unresolved by my solution?

Does my recommended solution and implementation plan address the problem or issues and causes identified in the previous sections?

Does my solution consider and resolve the identified pros and cons?

How will I evaluate the effectiveness of the implemented recommended solution?

What process checks or procedures will I put in place to institutionalize the improvement?

Could my solution cause other problems or issues?

What risks are inherent in the solution I recommend?

What contingency plans do I recommend?

Assess the realism of your proposed action plan. For example, are there adequate time, money, or other resources for your solution? In addition, does your solution place too much reliance on other people being reasonable (i.e., on what you think is reasonable)?

Justification (Content Section 7)

Justify why your recommended solution and its implementation will solve the identified problem or issue in the organization or unit you have selected. An important element of this section is to show very clearly how you applied course concepts to arrive at a workable solution and a successful implementation. Apply appropriate course material; support your conclusions with appropriately referenced facts, quotes, and readings; and be sure your justification addresses identified pros and cons.

References

All citations in the paper must appear in the reference list, and all references must be cited in the text. Choose references judiciously, and cite them accurately. A citation of an author’s work in the text documents your work, briefly identifies the source for readers, and enables readers to locate the source of information in the alphabetical reference list at the end of the paper. To use the ideas or words of another without crediting the source is plagiarism.

Plagiarism in its purest form involves copying entire passages either verbatim or nearly verbatim, with no direct acknowledgment of the source. The most common (and unconscious) form of plagiarism is when a direct quotation is simply paraphrased. Paraphrasing does not relieve you of the obligation to provide proper identification of source data. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to make sure all quotes, ideas, or conclusions that are not your own are given proper acknowledgment in your text. Footnotes are required.

Grammar and Composition

The paper must use acceptable terminology in standard English and reflect the use of word processing software and spell check. Acceptable sentence structure must be reflected with appropriate use of grammar and style and be considerate of the audience for which the paper is written.

Organization and Formatting

Failure to follow required format, content length, or other issues impacting effective communication (flow) will result in a reduction of up to 20 points.