Statistical process control for hospitals: methodology, user education, and challenges

Qual Manag Health Care. Jul-Sep 2007;16(3):205-14. doi: 10.1097/01.QMH.0000281056.15177.a2.


The health care industry is slowly embracing the use of statistical process control (SPC) to monitor and study causes of variation in health care processes. While the statistics and principles underlying the use of SPC are relatively straightforward, there is a need to be cognizant of the perils that await the user who is not well versed in the key concepts of SPC. This article introduces the theory behind SPC methodology, describes successful tactics for educating users, and discusses the challenges associated with encouraging adoption of SPC among health care professionals. To illustrate these benefits and challenges, this article references the National Hospital Quality Measures, presents critical elements of SPC curricula, and draws examples from hospitals that have successfully embedded SPC into their overall approach to performance assessment and improvement.

MeSH terms

  • Benchmarking / organization & administration
  • Benchmarking / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospital Administration / education
  • Hospital Administration / methods*
  • Hospital Administration / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospital Information Systems / organization & administration
  • Hospital Information Systems / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Process Assessment, Health Care / methods*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Statistics as Topic