Ms. Collette D’Bills, patient accounting, has gathered data related to accounts receivable, entering it to an Excel spreadsheet. In fact, she has several years’ worth of data in her Excel files, but has not been able to understand what it means, except to see that accounts receivable sometimes go up and sometimes go down. At the end of the year, she usually files the spreadsheets along with earlier records and gives them no further thought.

Her new assistant, Anne A. Lytical, is appalled at this waste. “Why, if you had charted this data, you’d be able to see trends,” she exclaimed. Collette points out that she has seen trends. “Sometimes receivables are up, sometimes they’re down.” That was enough of a trend to suit her.

Anne, however, charts the Excel data, and within minutes she brings Collette the following chart.

Hospital Accounts Receivable Control Charts

At the seminar, Dr. Noah Tahl explains the meaning of “in-control” and “out-of-control,” and picks up Collette’s chart to examine it. “Your accounts receivable process is definitely out of control,” he says, as his finger follows the downward trend of the data. “You’ve got to get this process back under control!”.

“But,” says Colette, “we’ve made so much improvement, how can it be a bad thing that the data is out of control?” She sends follow-up letters to all customers three weeks after they have been billed; if there is not response, Colette has then made an additional phone call. But true to his name, Dr. Noah Tahl insists that his job is to bring processes into control, and since hers is definitely not, it must be changed.

Who is right? Click on your choice below, and see the correct response. If you select the right answer, you will be eligible to win a free copy of Quality Gamebox, our lighthearted collection of quality-related experiments and simulations.

Answer Choices:
A. Dr. Noah Tahl
B. Ms. Collette D’Bills

About the Author