New research, Retrospective evaluation of an intervention based on training sessions to increase the use of control charts in hospitals, published by BMJ Quality & Safety, suggests that a training intervention, developed by NHS England/Improvement (NHSE/I), improved the uptake of statistical process control charts (SPCs) in hospitals across England.
Unlike the red, amber green (RAG) rating, which has been widely used in healthcare, SPCs draw attention to statistically significant changes in performance. They help differentiate between normal or expected variation in performance, and significant changes which might warrant investigation or celebration. A short video explaining SPC charts can be found here.
A precursor to this research was a study published in 2017, Considering chance in quality and safety performance measures: an analysis of performance reports by boards in English NHS trusts, funded by the West Midlands Academic Health (WMAHSN) and carried out by National Institute for Health and Social Care Research Applied Research Collaboration West Midlands (NIHR ARC WM), that investigated the use of SPCs by hospital board members and the barriers to implementing them.
The new research sampled over 6,000 charts, from 20 hospitals, and looked at 40 publicly available board papers to see if there was a correlation between the training intervention and the uptake of the use of SPCs. The study found a nine-fold increase in the use of SPCs in hospital staff who received training, over those who had not.
This research supports the NHS England and NHS Improvement, Making Data Count Programme and is, in most cases, a more suitable method to present complex health and social care data.
Paul Bird, Knowledge Mobilisation Lead for WMAHSN, and co-author of the recent paper, said: “This research is an example of how a relatively short (90 minute) training intervention, which is highly scalable and supported by appropriate tools, can change organisational behaviour. We know from other studies that people make better decisions when using SPC charts, instead of traditional run charts, which can only be of benefit to health and care organisations, overall.”