Run charts are very useful in Quality Improvement (Qi). The process of measuring and reviewing data is essential in Qi and we have found that run charts are a quick and simple way to visualise change over time. It is easy to make, easy to read and most importantly, easy to share with others!
A run chart can be used to plot data you are collecting to try to understand variation in a process, or to monitor the impact you are making throughout a PDSA cycle.
Whatever you are using the chart for, our main recommendation (as ever) is keep it simple.
How to Create a Run Chart
To create a run chart, your axis will need to show the following:
- X axis: This axis will indicate time/intervals at when you measure your change. Make sure to use intervals that will are useful in understanding you change (days, weeks, months, etc).
- Y axis: This axis is the where you plot the change you are measuring, in a unit that useful to you (percentage, number of days, number of patients etc.).
Pro Tip! Always collect data in a table, it will make it easier when plotting a run chart (as well as keep you organised).
Simple ways to add more meaning! You can add a horizontal line through the centre of you chart to show the (Median) average of your measure. You should then be able to see how you are doing over time. It is as simple as that.
Annotate your chart at points when you have implemented changes in your process, this will allow you to see if that change has brought about the desired improvement (as demonstrated below).
We have created a really simple template for a run chart which you can download here Template-Run_Charts_v06
Complete the highlighted boxes with the title of your chart and the measure you would like to monitor on the Y-axis. Then add your data in the table beneath and the values will appear in the chart.
If you want to learn more about run charts and understanding variation, I recommend starting with this whiteboard video from the IHI.
If you would like some help in getting started, we would be happy to create a template specifically for the improvement you are trying to make. Just complete the form below and we will send a custom run-chart example straight to your inbox.
We hope this is helpful and please get in touch with your comments.