Students bring fresh perspective to PANTHERx

PANTHERx Specialty Pharmacy General Manager Tim Davis was impressed enough with the work he saw from kids performing a project for his company that he wanted to follow up on their ideas.

He was particularly interested recommendations that PANTHERx switch to cellulose packaging for drug deliveries, equip high tech refrigerators provided to patients with battery backup and possibly use iPads to replace the electronic interface on the units.

The ideas underscored the value getting a “fresh perspective” from outside the company, Davis said.

As a specialty pharmacy delivering expensive and perishable prescriptions to patients with rare diseases, the company not only needs to use temperature-controlled packaging for prescriptions, it also needs regular communication with patients to ensure none of the medicines are compromised or wasted. It tasked students with finding ways to improve these capabilities.

The ideas came from a team of 8th graders in Blackhawk School District who worked over the past semester to research and provide recommendations. They took on the assignment through Student Powered Solutions, a Consortium program that creates partnerships between businesses and schools so that students can apply their learning to real world challenges and build the soft skills essential to working on teams.

Students said they learned lots that textbook learning doesn’t always teach. They said they sharpened their research skills, developed the ability to communicate well within a group and learned to create and deliver presentations.

As for what they liked best about working on an authentic business problem, one said “I liked working on something where your ideas might actually be used to help someone.”

Another said the project underscored “the value of face-to-face communication” in a world where so technology mediates so many exchanges.

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