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Posted on 25th November 2021
Ranked as outstanding by the Quality Care Commission, and renowned across the UK’s public health sector as a pioneer of continuous quality improvement, East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) chose BCN to design and create 10 SPC charts built on ELFT’s existing Microsoft Power BI software.
Formed in 2000, the ELFT has been recognized as a centre of excellence for mental health care, innovation and improvement. With its 14 directorates, 6,000 members of staff and 500 individual, measurable fields of criteria for benchmarking performance, collating, monitoring, and reporting data was a huge and ongoing challenge across the Trust, requiring an orchestrated solution.
Statistical Process Control (SPC) is the application of statistical methods to control and monitor processes, ensuring the process operates at its optimal. Within the ELFT, control charts were the principal tool used, where analytical information and data was plotted over time on the charts.
By having an SPC process, businesses and organisations can quickly see what is different, what the norm is and critically, understand statistical variations of their business’s data. SPC enables decision-makers to take the most unwavering and appropriate actions by harnessing their analytical data and using it as a definitive point of reference.
In the first phase, BCN were asked to design and create 10 types of SPC charts on ELFT’s existing Microsoft Power BI software, allowing ELFT to analyse data through ‘custom visuals’, enabling fast reactions to specific performance criteria, as well as developing predictive analytics to improve the accuracy of future planning.
The most common charts included Run Chart, C Chart, U Chart, P Chart and, XmR, complete with the advanced functionality needed for baselining and annotations. By using the fully unlocked capability of Microsoft Power BI, including the ability to interact, a custom visuals development approach was taken.
The second phase consisted of a further four SPC versions of XbarS, T Chart, G Chart, U’ Chart and P’ Chart’s created as ‘custom visuals’ that also implement the full set of IHI special cause rules. BCN’s User Experience (UX) designer was involved through the process to ensure that individual visuals were user-friendly allowing a best practice ‘flow’ through the presented data.
In terms of the NHS’s unique SPC chart features not seen before in Power BI, charts contained an interactive user-friendly chart wizard; utilized intuitive interactions for fixing baseline; automatic updates for operational reporting and recalculated limits and adding annotations. In addition, the visual is able to create and run, C,U, U’, P, P’, T, G, XmR and XbarS SPC charts and automatically highlight non-random variations and special cause variations, amongst other features. You can read further information here.
The creation of 10 unique SPC visual charts in Microsoft Power BI significantly improved the trusts data insights compared to the previous, static RAG indicators. The Implementation also helped move the whole trust, from the executive board to frontline staff, each member now utilised the SPC’s control charts as their default approach.
The 10 new charts enabled the ETFT to ask the chart questions and the Power BI ‘custom visual’ answered by bringing up the specific relevant data e.g. performance over a certain time period, in addition, the SPC model was the only product that met the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s special cause variation and is now included in the NHS’s improvement guidelines.
Dr. Amar Shah, the Chief Quality Officer for the ELFT, stated that “SPC forms part of our strategic approach to improvement” and has “led to a much richer conversation at the board” where it is “clearer now which things we didn’t need to pay attention to because they were in control and those things we did need to pay attention to”.
Fundamentally, SPC gave frontline workers, doctors, directors and everyone in between near real-time data analysis and greatly reduced the internal technical resource requirements, not to mention it becoming standard practice among ELFT’s executive team, replacing RAG.
As a result of the implementation, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and NHS Improvement now ask for the use of SPC charts in board reports, SPC is as important as ever for the healthcare industry.
Whilst this article focused on the East London NHS Foundation Trust, the scope for the use of Statistical Process Control is not limited to any one industry. So long as a business has a process where the product specifications and output can be measured, then SPC can be applied.
As shown, the benefits that SPC can have to your business is immense and may not be fully known to you. SPC will help you detect and prevent problems to your business’s processes prior to them occurring, unlike other methods of quality control (i.e. Process Inspection), which work by correcting the problems after they have occurred.
For more information on Microsoft’s Power BI and SPC, please get in contact with BCN.