Discuss the historical application of statistics in the field of health care.
The historical application of statistics in the field of health care is as old as the history of health care itself.
Historically, statistics have been applied to health care in an effort to understand populations, develop and test hypotheses and work toward solutions for this young field of study. Statistics are math, which means we can apply them to gather and analyze data to achieve new insight.
Why do nurses need statistics? Statistics are tools that are used to collect, analyze, and interpret data. Over the last century, many changes have occurred in health care. We now live in a technological society in which medical professionals commonly use computers, mobile devices, and interoffice communications to increase the quality of patient safety and efficiency. When I began my career as a nurse in the 1970s and 1980s, there was no Internet or electronic health records (EHRs). The use of computers for health information management did not become common until the mid-1990s. Hence, gathering data and analyzing data were much more complicated without technology. I am going to share with you some interesting historical events that illustrate the importance of statistics in health care.
Statistics are used to help determine health care needs, organize health care services, and evaluate the effects of medical treatments. For example, the use of survey statistics helped convince government agencies to provide free health care in public hospitals. The field of “statistical nursing” emerged during the 1960s.
In the field of healthcare, statistics have been used for thousands of years to learn about populations and evaluate health care. The evaluation of health care providers and quality of patient care has been studied in the past using very different types of data collection methods. Today, a few key groups collect health care quality data including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Thomson Pharma Solutions, Health Services Research Group at Harvard University, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, RTI International, the National Committee for Quality Assurance, National Committee on Vital Health Statistics, JAMA Internal Medicine and Institute of Medicine.
In today’s health care world, the use of statistics has become very vast and many fields are using it every day. For example, in the field of nursing, there are many uses for statistics when analyzing data. It is commonly used to verify or disapprove a hypothesis that researchers would like to test. It can also be used to determine the accuracy or error involved with a test and the reliability of a product that is going to be used by a patient. Statistics is always taken into consideration when reading medical articles that have been published in journals because it could lead to someone making an incorrect conclusion about a topic thus leading them on the wrong track and potentially harming other patients.
I’ve been a nurse for the past three decades, a nurse educator for the last decade, and a professional writer for even longer than that. In all that time, I’ve used statistics in my profession just about every day. Typically it has been in the form of interpreting data from paper studies or comparing figures from one nursing study to another. All of that has changed now with the advent of electronic health records and health information systems.
Medical and nursing study uses statistics in which a set of data is analyzed using inferential statistical methods in order to make decisions. Statistics is necessary in the study of health for reasons such as life expectancy, choice of treatments, predicting disease and associated factors, predicting survival rates of diseases like cancer, prediction of population growth, etc. Much of ways for prediction of these things have been developed by Statistics.
Statistics is a field of study that covers not only the logic, methodology and theory of inferential statistics but also their practical application in health care and its related fields.
Discuss the historical application of statistics in the field of health care. Describe an example, other than Florence Nightingale’s contributions, where statistical application has greatly influenced or changed health care operations or practice.