Statistics are essential to all forms of healthcare, from elaborating individual treatment plans to executing regimens for preventing and detecting disease on a large scale. The complexity of the human body and psyche and their interactions with their environment requires ongoing collaboration between statisticians and nurse researchers. The main reason why the use of statistics has been gaining more traction than ever is the new challenges that the healthcare system is facing today. Tackling emerging issues calls for evidence-based approaches that can only be developed based on objective, hard data. This paper explains in detail how the use of statistics may improve quality, safety, health promotion, and leadership and provides real-life examples from my own workplace.
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The Use of Statistics in Health Care
One of the fields of application for statistics in health care is resource management. Two trends make creating, obtaining, and distributing resources especially complicated in this day and age. First, the rapid growth of the world’s population and birth rates surpasses death rates in many countries mean more patients in need of medical help. Improved quality of life and access to healthcare account for longevity and increased life expectancy, which contributes to surging rates of age-related diseases.
Statistical modeling can help with making predictions about resource supply and demand, especially when it comes to medical facilities that serve large populations. American Statistical Association (2017) provides an example of using statistics for safe and adequate blood supply. The experts from the ASA argue that statistics make it possible to identify potential donors and understand and eliminate the risk of transfusion-transmitted infection.
Apart from improving safety and quality, the described approach facilitates health promotion. Upon obtaining relevant data, public health officials are able to develop targeted outreach and launch education programs on blood donation.
Another example of how statistics are used in health care is disease prediction and prevention. Nowadays, it suffices not to be reactive and simply deal with the consequences of public health hazards and catastrophes. Instead, it makes more sense to be proactive and address a problematic situation before it aggravates. For example, Damen et al. (2016) describe a statistical model that uses multi-factor analysis to calculate the likelihood of cardiovascular disease in patients. For this, seven predictors were outlined and then assessed to measure the magnitude of correlation of each of them (Damen et al. 2016). In clinical settings, a nurse can use this information to identify patients at risk and counsel them on necessary changes that they need to make to their lifestyle to stay healthy.
Lastly, statistics are an indispensable part of leadership promotion in health care. One of the roles that a nurse can take up in his or her daily practice is that of a researcher. Even the most basic knowledge of statistics can help a health worker detect problems in a given facility based on medical records and survey results (Ross, Fitzpatrick, Click, Krouse, & Clavelle, 2014). Later, he or she can present a solution to the managing board and staff and lead the change to improve the workflow and enhance the safety and quality of care in the workplace.
The Use of Statistics in My Workplace
In my own practice, I collaborated with my colleagues to improve the working conditions at our hospital. At one point, our medical facility was confronted with a significant surge in the nurse turnover rate. Given that there is a general shortage of health workers in the US workforce, that trend had the potential to pose a serious threat to the performance of the entire hospital. It was important to find out what exactly prompted nurses to leave our facility or the medical field altogether. Thus, we decided on conducting a survey to identify the contributing factors to job dissatisfaction in our colleagues.
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As a result, the managing board made adjustments to the working hours and shift schedules to accommodate the nurses and prevent them from having a burnout. Apart from that, we often use recent research papers to come up with ideas on how to improve existing procedures. One of the examples could be improving intravenous catheter insertion, which resulted in a lower rate of infection and less pain and distress for patients. Lastly, statistics may shape the right mindset in nurses, objective data makes them question well-established practices and procedures and look for innovative solutions.
In this day and age, it is imperative for healthcare organizations to make data-driven decisions. Analyzing information on a case-to-case basis is not enough to draw any feasible conclusions. Instead, health workers should look at broader tendencies and make decisions that would have a vast impact and lead to better health outcomes for entire communities. Moreover, continuous data and statistical models can help predict what course the trends in global health may take and undertake necessary measures to address modifiable risks.
In health care, statistics help with ensuring the safety and quality of care as well as fostering health promotion and leadership. At my medical facility, we run independent research to address the unique challenges that we are facing as well as draw on existing scientific findings to make meaningful changes to our practices.
American Statistical Association. (2017). Statistics improve health care. Web.
Damen, J. A., Hooft, L., Schuit, E., Debray, T. P., Collins, G. S., Tzoulaki, I.,… & Schlüssel, M. M. (2016). Prediction models for cardiovascular disease risk in the general population: Systematic review. BMJ, 353, i2416.
Ross, E. J., Fitzpatrick, J. J., Click, E. R., Krouse, H. J., & Clavelle, J. T. (2014). Transformational leadership practices of nurse leaders in professional nursing associations. Journal of Nursing Administration, 44(4), 201-206.