Statistics commonly refers to the numerical data which is collected through measurements or observations of a specific phenomenon, organization, or population sample. Statistics has a variety of utility, ranging from providing descriptive characteristics to measuring performance outcomes. Numerical data offered by statistics is commonly utilized in health care for its objectivity and ability to introduce data-driven programs which can maximize efficiency and gauge the health of large populations. Statistics serve as a vital tool in the health care sector, applicable for a variety of purposes and in many specializations such as nurse practitioner which can apply the discipline in research and practice.
Application of Statistics
Statistics is utilized in practically every aspect of modern health care as an objective and data-driven indicator. Statistics are commonly used for quality measurement and improvement as systematic process control. Data measuring performance and quality indicators are collected over time and analyzed for specific trends or responses to interventions. This statistical data may be regarding patients (mortality, diagnoses), hospitals (length of stay, readmission rates), the process of care (use of beta-blockers, the rate of check-ups with patients), and adverse events (HAIs, falls).
These are examples, and there are numerous other indicators that can be tracked statistically, with data tracking focused on the objective which is being achieved. Many of the aspects not only categorize quality but also serve as key safety indicators. For example, tracking the number of HAIs in patients can indicate whether appropriate measures are being taken for sanitation and prevention of the spread of infection in hospital environments. Metrics are extremely valuable in the monitoring of quality and safety in order to examine current practices (Martin, McKee, & Dixon-Woods, 2015).
Statistics play a large role in public health and health promotion. Using statistics, government and health organizations can track population data to observe large-scale indicators and patterns of health. This is significantly beneficial in identifying the need for intervention and subsequent outcomes. From a public health perspective, statistics can help track disease outbreaks, chronic disease morbidity and mortality, vaccination rates, health hazards such as alcohol and tobacco, and other aspects such as motor vehicle deaths.
Details such as descriptive statistics, variations, frequency distribution, and incidence (Hayat, Powell, Johnson, & Cadwell, 2017). The government Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continuously tracks these aspects and introduces concrete measures to address them through practice modification, guidelines, legislation, or public health promotion.
Health care leadership benefits from utilizing statistics as well for management purposes. Referring back to the numerous quality and safety indicators that are tracked, leaders can set goals to improve these objectives, using numerical statistical data to track any changes. The management perspective also benefits from statistical data as leaders can analyze staff diversity, employee satisfaction, the nurse left, and retention rates. Furthermore, by studying statistics such as hours worked or nurse-to-patient ratios, health care leaders can correlate the data to other indicators in order to draw conclusions and make meaningful changes.
Utilizing Statistical Knowledge
As a nurse practitioner, one is taught to rely on objective, evidence-based data in research and practice. Statistical knowledge compromises a significant aspect of the evidence-based approach that is taken while working at a large metropolitan hospital. In research, statistics are necessary to ensure that there is quantitative support for conclusions, and statistical analysis helps to identify patterns. As a nurse, it is expected that one engages in evidence-based research for self-education and the development of new knowledge.
On a day-to-day basis, statistics help to guide decision-making. For example, a practice nurse may observe that a patient requires attention in the emergency room. Collection of statistical data can be done through observations or patient surveys and interviews to determine certain indicators. It is vital to make the judgment call on which patients need immediate medical attention and which ones can wait. Examining statistical data on the length of waiting in an emergency room and its effect on exacerbating the condition helps guide the decision based on formal statistics or guidelines developed through statistical research.
A common tool used by nurses is statistical process control (SPC) charts which have been utilized in the industry for decades, allowing to visualize a metric over time. Tracking indicators using SPC charts, aided with modern digital technology, helps to identify patterns in rates of occurrence or length of an objective as well as the effectiveness of interventions meant to address the specific component (Hagan, 2018).
Statistics can be used to enhance patient care to prioritize treatments and comparison options for nursing practice to determine the effectiveness of interventions. Finally, statistics support empirical evidence, which is the basis for competent protocols and decision-making on when to conduct medical procedures (ECPI, n.d.). The use of statistical monitoring and analysis for health care practice is virtually unlimited.
It is evident that statistics is a vital analytical and measurement tool in the health care field. The objective and data-driven focus of statistics helps to measure, analyze, and summarize a variety of indicators such as efficiency, costs, resource allocation, and quality improvement. A nurse practitioner should utilize statistics for competent practice, quantitative, evidence-based research, and implementation of various interventions. Overall, it is important to utilize statistical data for the improvement and development of health care at all levels.
ECPI. (n.d.). Web.
Hagan, J. L. (2018). . JOJ Nursing & Health Care, 8(5), 1-3. Web.
Hayat, M. J., Powell, A., Johnson, T., & Cadwell, B. L. (2017). Statistical methods used in the public health literature and implications for training of public health professionals. PloS One, 12(6), e0179032. Web.
Martin, G. P., McKee, L., & Dixon-Woods, M. (2015). Beyond metrics? Utilizing “soft intelligence” for healthcare quality and safety. Social Science & Medicine, 142, 19–26. Web.