Dental Associates of Northern Virginia (A)
(4 pages of text)
Dental Associates of Northern Virginia is one of the largest dental networks in northern Virginia. In this series of two cases, the head administrator must choose between keeping up with new technology by investing in innovative all-porcelain crown-making machines or holding onto a strategy of waiting and seeing. This choice also aligns with the head administrator making a larger decision of whether to enhance the core competency of his network by developing a complete in-house laboratory or continuing to rely on an expensive, but reliable, outside laboratory for all-porcelain restorations. Together, the two cases in the series are rich in concepts of cost, timeliness, quality, and flexibility, as students are forced to see an operations problem from both patient and doctor perspectives. The cases also consider the ever-changing world of technology and how it impacts a doctor’s practice along with an entire network of offices.
This case series was written for an introductory course in operations management, but could also be used in an operations strategy, health care operations, or operations technology course. It provides students with an opportunity to apply decision-making skills to a real-life problem in a familiar health care service setting. While analyzing the case, students are encouraged to study the problem both qualitatively and quantitatively. Qualitatively, in the (A) case students can assess how both patients and dentists at the Dental Associates of Northern Virginia would likely be affected by the acquisition of the new machine. Quantitatively, students have the opportunity of performing a make-versus-buy break-even analysis using both graphical and algebraic approaches.
The (A) case is a pre-requisite for the (B) case, but could be used alone. The (B) case serves as a follow-up to the (A) case and takes place two years later. Case (B) also spurs students to consider both qualitative and quantitative issues facing the decision maker in the case. In case (B), students gain an appreciation of the dynamics of technology in health care and are inspired to understand the complexities of an entire network of dentists as opposed to a small, single dental practice comprised of only one or two dentists. Case (B) builds upon the concepts introduced in Case (A) by requiring students to consider marginal analysis in their break-even methodology as they distinguish between sunk costs and relevant costs. Students also get to engage with the complexity of having multiple products to consider in a make-vs.-buy scenario. This complicates the analysis as students must sort through many different products, their prices, and changing volumes. Finally, Case (B) provides a rich context for thinking about operational strategy and how that strategy changes over time.
Health Care Services
United States, Small, 2006-2009
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