What Is a Run Chart

A run chart is a graphical data display that shows trends in a measure of interest; trends reveal what is occurring over time. Run charts are the most common type of trend chart, and we all are accustomed to seeing them in newspapers, financial reports, reference books, and particularly in modern improvement work.

A run chart shows data points in time order. The value of the measure of interest is shown on the vertical dimension and the value of the measure at each point, running over time, is shown on the horizontal dimension. You will often see run charts used to show trends related to patients or organizations or clinical units. You might make or see run charts for many different measures, for example:

• Fasting blood sugar. Blood sugar levels for a person with diabetes might be plotted daily for a month (see Figure 22.2).

FIGURE 22.2. RUN CHART DISPLAYING FASTING BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS.

FIGURE 22.2. RUN CHART DISPLAYING FASTING BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS.

Days

FIGURE 22.3. RUN CHART DISPLAYING NO SHOWS.

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FIGURE 22.3. RUN CHART DISPLAYING NO SHOWS.

Date

• No shows. The number of patients who do not arrive for an appointment at a clinic might be plotted daily for a month (see Figure 22.3).

• Appointment access. The number of days to the third next available appointment might be plotted over a two-year time period as changes are made to improve access to care (see Figure 22.4).

FIGURE 22.4. RUN CHART DISPLAYING DAYS TO THIRD NEXT AVAILABLE APPOINTMENT.

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