.. An outline on the role and advantages of statistical management systems in healthcare
Significance of Statistical Applications in Healthcare
By Abirah Okoth.
Data is one of the most important resources in modern healthcare systems. As healthcare systems have transitioned into digital, computerized forms, it has become easier and more convenient to gather data. Yet, data has also proven to be a necessary component in driving improvements that refine modern healthcare systems toward better, more efficient, cheaper, and safer care experiences for patients and practitioners alike. Statistics provide a way of interpreting and understanding data. In this sense, healthcare statistics is an incredibly important field in healthcare today, and healthcare practitioners ought to possess skills in statistical applications.
The Evolving Application of Statistics in Healthcare
In the past, healthcare statistics was an important part of care delivery, but the field was not as important as it is today. This situation began to change in the 1960s with the rise of private insurance, the implementation of Medicare and Medicaid programs, and the development of technological advances in healthcare (Perrin, et al., 2001). Caregivers gradually gained access to large quantities of patient data, which they could interpret variably to understand patient experiences. Perhaps the most notable development in the application of statistics on healthcare came with the emergence of health information management systems (Belle, et al., 2015). Such systems coalesce healthcare services by supporting routine management, planning, and decision making activities in health organizations and facilities (Perrin, et al., 2001). As statistical tools become more potent, caregivers and healthcare facilities have better ways of deriving meaningful information from larger quantities of patient data.
Current Uses of Healthcare Statistics
Modern quality improvement initiatives in healthcare rely heavily on healthcare data and statistics. By interpreting health data accurately, caregivers are able to gauge the performance of different aspects of healthcare systems. For instance, a healthcare facility can use patient feedback to discern which components of the care process patients are not comfortable with. Using such information, health administrators, leaders, and other practitioners can implement improvements that enhance the overall quality of care for patients. Healthcare statistics also enable healthcare practitioners to determine their strengths and weaknesses. Metrics like patient turnaround time can help caregivers to measure their performance over time, and to gauge their effectiveness compared to other similar facilities (De Mast, et al., 2011). Such information relies heavily on statistical tools, and it contributes toward improvements in healthcare quality that benefit patients and practitioners.
Another aspect of healthcare that statistics impacts is safety. Information derived via statistical methods can help practitioners to pinpoint specific areas of concern relating to patient safety. For instance, an acute care facility can gather data and determine the underlying hindrances to patient safety, such as falls, misdiagnosis, and secondary infections. Using such information, caregivers can implement solutions to address safety concerns in their order of magnitude and relevance. In a general sense, safety and quality improvement initiatives follow the same broad approach that relies on data and statistics. The first step in this approach is to identify an area of focus for the improvement plan. Next, practitioners gather relevant data, or use preexisting data to understand the current state with regard to the area of focus. The third step is to implement solutions based on the information that the practitioners derive from the data. The final step is to use subsequent measurements to ascertain that the solutions were effective, and that the area of focus progresses toward a better state.
Health Promotion and Leadership
Health promotion is the process of equipping people and communities with the necessary resources to improve their health and wellness. Health promotion fulfils the obligation of health workers to contribute to improvements in the overall state of health and wellness of humankind. Health promotion is often targeted toward vulnerable and underserved populations, since such groups tend to have inferior health and wellness outcomes compared to the average population. Healthcare statistics are an important enabler of health promotion because through statistics, healthcare practitioners can understand the prevailing needs of vulnerable populations (De Mast, et al., 2011). For instance, a national healthcare survey may reveal the groups that have inadequate access to care services. Using this information, which is inferred via statistical methods, leaders can implement strategies for ensuring that the vulnerable populations have better access to care services in the future. In this sense, healthcare statistics aid health promotion by providing leaders with crucial information on existing shortcomings in the healthcare system.
Personal Applications of Healthcare Statistics
I often use data and statistics to improve my engagements with patients in different capacities. In the past year, the facility where I work tasked practitioners to work toward delivering a better care experience for patients, in line with the organization’s prevailing mission. On a personal level, I sought to have a better understanding of my patients and their backgrounds in the course of care, which I hoped would help me to connect with them more intimately and improve their overall experience. Patients are always encouraged to provide feedback on their experiences at the facility through short online surveys. Based on the feedback I received, I noticed that the new patients who I attended to for longer durations and more compassionately tended to have a more positive care experience than those who I had served in the past. This told me that the new approach that I used to interact with patients gave them a better care experience.
However, the new approach that I have been using is inefficient in the sense that it dedicates more time to individual patients, thus reducing the number of patients that individual caregivers can attend to. Nonetheless, caregivers and healthcare facilities can improve their systems by continuously gathering and interpreting data to gauge the effectiveness of specific methods, and to measure their performance over time as they work toward certain objectives.
Belle, A., Thiagarajan, R., Soroushmehr, S. M., Navidi, F., Beard, D. A., & Najarian, K. (2015). Big data analytics in healthcare. BioMed research international, 2015.
De Mast, J., Kemper, B., Does, R. J., Mandjes, M., & van der Bijl, Y. (2011). Process improvement in healthcare: Overall resource efficiency. Quality and Reliability Engineering International, 27(8), 1095-1106.
Perrin, E. B., Kalsbeek, W. D., Scanlan, T. M., & National Research Council (US) Committee on National Statistics. (2001). Health Statistics: Past, Present, and Future. In Toward a Health Statistics System for the 21st Century: Summary of a Workshop. National Academies Press (US).