Society for Health Systems 2014 Talk

This was my talk at the 2014 conference on February 23, 2014, titled “Two Data Points Are Not a Trend: Using SPC to Manage Better.” The audio and slides are not synced. I suggest playing the audio and moving through the slides manually the best you can. The book I recommend strongly is: Understanding Variation: The Key to Managing Chaos, by Professor Don Wheeler.


MP3 Link


You can also view this earlier webinar version of the presentation from before.

About the talk:

Healthcare leaders often make bad decisions due to a lack of statistical understanding. This session will remind attendees that simple comparisons of two data points or comparisons to goals and targets can be misleading. Control charts allow us to better validate project success and make better ongoing management decisions.

It’s far too easy for improvement facilitators to draw incorrect conclusions about the success of their Lean event or Six Sigma project if they are simply comparing before and after performance. Likewise, healthcare leaders make bad decisions when they are likewise comparing two data points (today versus a previous month or year or today versus a target).

Basic Statistical Process Control (SPC) methods, like control charts, are a simple and proven alternative.

Key Learning Objectives

1) Understand some of the common pitfalls in the creation and use of performance measures in various healthcare settings

2) See statistical chart analysis methods that allow for the best management decision making, such as knowing if we are improving and if a “bad day” requires investigation or if it is merely “noise” in the system's performance

3) Connect key principles of Lean management and the Deming philosophy into modern KPI and metrics management

By the end of this session attendees will

1) Understand the importance of “control charts” for management decision making

2) Be able to create and interpret a basic management control chart

3) Know of other resources for more learning
Mark Graban is author of the Shingo-Award winning book “Lean Hospitals: Improving Quality, Patient Safety, and Employee Engagement.” Mark is also co-author, with Joe Swartz, of “Healthcare Kaizen: Engaging Front-Line Staff in Sustainable Continuous Improvements” (also a Shingo recipient) and “The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen.”

He serves as a consultant to healthcare organizations through his company, Constancy, Inc and is also the vice president of innovation and improvement services for the technology company KaiNexus.

Mark has a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Northwestern University and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering and an M.B.A. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Leaders for Global Operations Program. Mark and his wife live in San Antonio, Texas.