The importance and uses of healthcare statistics for nurses

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Biostatistics, medical statistics, and healthcare statistics — it is all about the same thing. With trends in today’s world, where data is at the root of everything, no sector, healthcare included, can thrive without data. This is why researchers in healthcare-related professions do everything from clinical experiments to simply gathering demographic data to improve healthcare delivery. 

Advanced nurses must cultivate the necessary skills to thrive in a data-driven world without losing sight of discovery, scholarship, and leadership qualities. If this is you, you can register for Rockhurst University’s AGACNP Post-Master’s Certificate program to take a step towards achieving that goal. This online program is designed to boost nurses’ careers through a four-semester course that hones the skills they need to excel in their field.

What are healthcare statistics?

Healthcare statistics gather and interpret healthcare related data. These statistics primarily use statistical methods to evaluate several healthcare aspects, like patient outcomes, the cost of healthcare delivery, and even the effectiveness of treatments on patients. 

These figures can include anything, from patient demographics to how common a particular disease is in an area. The goal of healthcare statistics is to give healthcare professionals, researchers, and administrators the insight to help them identify trends that can significantly improve the quality of care. 

The importance of statistics in healthcare

Statistics are the backbone for decision making, planning, and evaluation in the healthcare industry. The healthcare system utilizes these models to determine the best course of action in various situations. 

These are some common ways statistics can be used: 

To determine cause and effect

Researchers rely on biostatistics to determine the factors that cause diseases or to know whether a newly introduced treatment is working. Biostatistics primarily help them make sense of the data they gather. For example, a researcher might use biostatistics to analyze data from a clinical trial of a new diabetes drug. They can then compare the blood sugar levels and medication side effects with a control group that is not using the drugs. Statistical analysis reveals the drug’s impact on managing diabetes.

Evidence-based medicine

Statistics give healthcare providers the data they need to make informed treatment decisions. How? Medical professionals can determine how effective a treatment is by analyzing data on this treatment from clinical trials, patient surveys, and other research works. For instance, if the statistical analysis of a particular medication shows that it treats high blood pressure better than other drugs, doctors would most likely prefer to prescribe it. 

Epidemiology

Epidemiology focuses on understanding how diseases spread and what factors contribute to these diseases and health conditions. In this field, statistics opens opportunities for a more precise analysis of disease patterns and outbreaks. For example, statistical models can help identify the hotspots with a particularly prevalent illness. This way, healthcare providers can target these areas for health interventions. 

Healthcare statistics can also reveal risk factors, like age, diet, or even geographic location, that may make specific populations more susceptible to a disease. Simply put, healthcare statistics give the epidemiology field a data-driven approach that can help professionals detect diseases early, and implement early intervention of disease outbreaks. 

Prevention and control

The spread of pandemic outbreaks like COVID-19 and Ebola has significantly impacted healthcare systems and professionals worldwide. Statistics can help the healthcare industry devise strategies to prevent and control the spread of these diseases. Statistical models can predict how quickly a virus will spread in certain conditions. 

A practical example is the MERMAID statistical models used to count the COVID-19 occurrence and ascertained cases during the pandemic. Public health officials can use this data to decide on the best measures to implement — whether social distancing or complete lockdown — to reduce the spread of the disease. These data can also help these officials allocate resources effectively, choose where to send vaccines, and prioritize at-risk populations. 

Clinical trials

Statistical methods in clinical trials can assess the long-term effectiveness of drugs or treatment plans. Researchers use techniques, like randomized controlled trials against a placebo, to know the effect of the new treatment compared to existing options. Healthcare providers can now use this evidence to decide on the best course of treatment for their patients. Ultimately, statistics provide the evidence needed to guide medical decisions effectively. 

Why nurses should understand healthcare statistics

Nurses who have proper statistical literacy can critically appraise research findings and analysis. This will help them transfer knowledge and discoveries in healthcare to improve service delivery. 

Here are some more reasons why every nurse should understand the how-tos of healthcare statistics: 

Improved practice efficiency

Statistics are improving healthcare delivery, and who else is at the center of this delivery? Nurses. Statistics will help nurses channel services in the right direction with improved health outcomes in patients. 

Besides, nurses who are data-driven can contribute their quota to direct observation of community and patient trends. They can identify trends in patient symptoms and analyze data for easy staff scheduling. They can also use data to better understand what their patient is going through, and how they can alleviate these issues. This, of course, builds a better relationship between the two parties, which will help nurses care for patients better. 

Advanced nursing career

The healthcare society is informative, and understanding healthcare statistics is a surefire way for nurses to expose themselves to new and emerging fields in healthcare. This gives every nurse the opportunity to advance their career outside of clinical practice. How?

Nurses can now offer home-care services without any affiliation to healthcare facilities. They only need to know their data and how they can proffer solutions to the problem the data picks on. 

Nurses can also utilize data to apply for better-paying healthcare jobs in fields where nursing services are in high demand. For instance, there is an increased demand for geriatric nurses, and nurses who can interpret statistics can easily tap into this opportunity. 

Quality of care

Understanding healthcare statistics helps nurses determine what is working and what is not regarding patient care. For example, if the data shows that a particular approach leads to faster recovery times, nurses can adopt this as a best practice. This makes patients happier but also improves their health. 

Conclusion

Statistics in healthcare are fundamental to service efficiency and the improvement of patient outcomes. As frontline caregivers, nurses must understand healthcare statistics well to implement evidence-based practices for better patient satisfaction.