How do you know that your care is improving? Part II: Using control charts to learn from your data

J Ambul Care Manage. 2002 Apr;25(2):78-88. doi: 10.1097/00004479-200204000-00010.


This article builds on my article in the January 2002 issue of JACM on the use of run charts to analyze data variation and document process improvement. It describes a more powerful tool than the run chart for analyzing variation and measuring process improvement, namely, the control chart developed by Walter Shewhart. This article first explains the basic elements of a control chart, the tests for detecting a special cause variation, and how to choose the best control chart for the type of data being collected. It concludes with one case study using a control chart to document a successful intervention and some suggestions regarding computer software.

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical*
  • Efficiency, Organizational / statistics & numerical data
  • Forms and Records Control*
  • Humans
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / methods*
  • United States