Misalignment of measures, measurement and analysis with the goals and methods of quality improvement efforts in healthcare may create confusion and decrease effectiveness. In healthcare, measurement is used for accountability, research, and quality improvement, so distinguishing between these is an important first step. Using a case vignette, this paper focuses on using measurement for improvement to gain insight into the dynamic nature of healthcare systems and to assess the impact of interventions. This involves an understanding of the variation in the data over time. Statistical process control (SPC) charting is an effective and powerful analysis tool for this. SPC provides ongoing assessment of system functioning and enables an improvement team to assess the impact of its own interventions and external forces on the system. Once improvement work is completed, the Standards for Quality Improvement Reporting Excellence (SQUIRE) guidelines is a valuable tool to describe the rationale, context, and study of the interventions. SQUIRE can be used to plan improvement work as well as structure a manuscript for publication in peer-reviewed journals.
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