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Considerations for the design of safe and effective consumer health IT applications in the home
  1. Teresa Zayas-Cabán1,
  2. Brian E Dixon2
  1. 1Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, Maryland, USA
  2. 2Regenstrief Institute, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Teresa Zayas-Cabán, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 540 Gaither Road, Room 6115, Rockville, MD 20850, USA; teresa.zayascaban{at}


Introduction Consumer health IT applications have the potential to improve quality, safety and efficiency of consumers' interactions with the healthcare system. Yet little attention has been paid to human factors and ergonomics in the design of consumer health IT, potentially limiting the ability of health IT to achieve these goals. This paper presents the results of an analysis of human factors and ergonomics issues encountered by five projects during the design and implementation of home-based consumer health IT applications.

Methods Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality-funded consumer health IT research projects, where patients used the IT applications in their homes, were reviewed. Project documents and discussions with project teams were analysed to identify human factors and ergonomic issues considered or addressed by project teams. The analysis focused on system design and design processes used as well as training, implementation and use of the IT intervention.

Results A broad range of consumer health IT applications and diverse set of human factors and ergonomics issues were identified. The design and implementation processes used resulted in poor fit with some patients' healthcare tasks and the home environment and, in some cases, resulted in lack of use. Clinician interaction with patients and the information provided through health IT applications appeared to positively influence adoption and use.

Conclusions Consumer health IT application design would benefit from the use of human factors and ergonomics design and evaluation methods. Considering the context in which home-based consumer health IT applications are used will likely affect the ability of these applications to positively impact the quality, safety and efficiency of patient care.

  • Telemedicine
  • communication
  • patient participation
  • medical informatics applications
  • human engineering
  • communication
  • human factors
  • information technology

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  • Funding This work was supported in part by the AHRQ National Resource Center for Health IT, contract no 290-04-0016.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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