Statistical Process Improvement
Georgetown University

Introduction to the Course



  • Describe the role of organizational leaders in process improvement
  • Describe how interdisciplinary teams can improve care processes
  • Describe five strategies for improving the definition of a problem to be addressed by improvement teams.
  • Describe strategies for better meetings in improvement teams
  • Explain process improvement tools such as fishbone diagrams, flow charts, and storyboards.
  • Discuss the importance of using media to give voice to patient's experiences.
  • Plot a control chart using Excel

Assigned Reading

  1. Introduction (use instructor's last name as password) Read►
  2. Leading change Read►
  3. PDCA cycles Read►  
  4. 92 examples of process improvement efforts Read►



Question 1: Select  your teach one assignments.  We subscribe to the principle of "Learn one, do one, teach one."  The best way to learn is to teach the topic.  At start of the course, you select a topic in the course to teach.  A week prior to the due date, you submit all assignments in the topic to the instructor. On due date, you email to all students in the class a You Tube video showing how to solve assigned homework.  Missing any of the deadlines on this assignment will lead to 10% reduction in your grade for each week of delay.  If you and others have the same topic, you can focus on different parts of the lecture or assignments. Use Blackboard discussion to indicate the topic you want to focus on. If a student has already taken the topic, it is your responsibility to negotiate how your focus will differ.

Question 2: Plot the following data, where the X axis is the time periods, the Y-axis shows the observed value, the upper control limit and the lower control limits.  Distinguish between the first seven data periods as these were collected pre-intervention.  Remaining data points were collected post intervention.  Title the chart. Create a legend that defines the name for various lines.  Make sure that the observation line has markers and the control limits have no markers.  Make portion of Upper and Lower limit lines that are post intervention dashed.  Make portion of the line that is pre-intervention straight line.  Make all Upper and Lower limit lines red.  Data► Slides►

Question 3: This problem will test your familiarity with Excel. Consider the following population data, P: {0, 4, 10, 15, 47, 100}. Assume that you are sampling WITHOUT replacement i.e. once a population element is selected in a sample, that element cannot be selected again for that sample.

  •  List all possible samples of size 2 which can be drawn from set P. For example (0, 4) is a sample of size 2. Another such sample is (15, 47). Verify that you have listed all 15 possible samples.
  • Calculate the arithmetic mean for each individual sample that you listed earlier. Since there are 15 samples you should end up with 15 means. List all means.
  •  Calculate the arithmetic mean of the 15 means that you calculated earlier. This is the average value of all sample means. Compare this value to average of the initial 6 numbers, the population mean. Are they close? Same?

Question 4: In the following Table, fill in all cell values so that all indicated relationships hold. X and Y are random variables.  X with a bar above it indicates the average of X values in the column X. This problem will test your understanding of several principles related to elementary statistics and algebraic operations. Submitted your completed work as an Excel file.

Question 5: The following data are arranged in order of increasing magnitude. Figure out the two missing values (represented by question marks) such that the mean for this data equals the median (for this problem, assume that missing values are positive integers).  Data: ?, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8,?

Question 6:  Use snippets of videos from YouTube, quotes from Yelp (r) reviews, and data from Hospital Compare to define a problem in a healthcare system. Make sure that the definition of the problem follows the rules discussed in the lecture including:  (1) not blaming anyone, (2) numerically describe the gap in the desired and actual state, (3) using patient’s voices and/or quotes to accentuate the problem descritption. Hospital Compare► Bad hospital experiences► Yelp Hospital Reviews►


  • Many books cover the same topics as the current course.  One of our favorites is the free book "OpenIntro Statistics" Read►
  • History of patient safety efforts at AHRQ Read►
  • Psychology of change Read► 


Copyright 1996 Farrokh Alemi, Ph.D. Most recent revision 04/17/2019.  This page is part of the course on Statistical Process Improvement, this is the lecture on Introduction to the Course.