Column: Emerging Sectors: Help Wanted: One Statistician Consultant

Abstract:[Abstract from article]

Porter Memorial Hospital is a mid-size hospital in Northwest Indiana, operating at about 275 beds. In 1996, the Board of Trustees found a need for statistical advice, particularly in the analysis of performance indicators measured over time. Its search resulted in a partnership with a nearby university professor, hired as a statistician consultant.

During the year the committee analyzed approximately 50 indicators, all in the form of graphs. Prior to the work done with the consultant, the indicators were represented as run charts with moving averages to smooth out the noise. In this format, it was difficult to detect trends, except in the long run.

When all of the graphs were converted to control charts, the analyses became more focused, and out-of-control processes were quickly noted. The flip side was that random variation did not cause the committee to overreact or to waste time on processes that were …

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