Professional MBA (ProMBA) candidates at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business complete an Organizational Action Project (OAP) designed to bring significant benefit to their employers. Jennifer Monroe (ProMBA, ’19) completed a cost-benefit analysis to evaluate the viability of a mobile prosthetic laboratory for her former employer, Choice Orthotics & Prosthetics, which is saving the company lost revenues.
Monroe wanted to pursue an MBA at UT in 1994 but hadn’t taken the required calculus courses. As she was making up the credits taking evening classes at Pellissippi State, she and her husband started a business while they were expecting their first child. She still found herself wanting to know and understand more and recognized that she would need more skills (e.g., accounting, supply chain and strategy) to move into a role at a larger organization.
“Then an opportunity came along with Choice Orthotics & Prosthetics,” Monroe says. “I wanted to get my MBA, and they wanted to hire me, so we worked out a way for both to happen.” She entered Haslam’s ProMBA program.
Her company had challenges with patients often missing follow-up appointments, and she and the owners had discussed the possibility of acquiring a mobile prosthetics laboratory to eliminate that challenge. The idea came from joking about converting the owners’ beat-up old van into a mobile lab. It became her OAP project.
Her analysis determined that missed appointments were costing the company at least $70,000 per year in lost revenue. By investing about that much in a van, it could recoup at least $54,000 of lost revenue each year going forward — all while providing better service to its patients.
Seventy-five percent of amputations are of the right leg, so many of the company’s patients could not drive themselves to follow-up appointments and did not have alternative transportation.
“Our patients also lived an average of 59 miles from our office,” Monroe says. “When you consider that they need an average of 32 follow-up appointments after surgery with doctors, physical therapists, prosthetists and so on, you can see why the process is difficult.”
Rather than visiting patients at home, mobile workshops are driven to partnering physicians’ offices close to the patient. The patient arrives for the exam, and the workshop is available outside. Prosthetists make four trips to the mobile workshop to adjust a limb, saving the patient four 59-mile trips, and ensuring four appointments are kept.
Her employer reacted with guarded optimism to the idea. After reviewing Monroe’s financial modeling, competitor analysis and summary of coming changes in healthcare, they began to accept it. With help from her team, Monroe laid out a detailed plan for pursuing the project, including a comprehensive timeline, which got everyone on board.
Monroe learned in January that the mobile lab was complete and that Choice Orthotics & Prosthetics was preparing to schedule appointments.
“I’ve moved into a role with larger responsibilities at another company — thanks to what I learned in ProMBA — but I still love my old team, and I was thrilled to see that project come to fruition,” she says. “And it was completed under the projected budget!”
Monroe credits the ProMBA with teaching her about change management, saying it improved her approach to challenges and opportunities.
“As a manager, when you have a fantastic idea and a lot of energy, it can be easy to steamroll your team,” she says. “In the ProMBA program, I learned to take a step back and assess my team’s feelings about change—to ask them about their fears and concerns and see if I can methodically remove potential hurdles as we’re progressing. It has made me a much better manager.”
Scott McNutt, business writer/publicist, email@example.com