Table 2

Some of the human factors focus areas that are applicable to healthcare

SpecialisationDescriptionExample for healthcare
AgeingHuman factors applications to meet the needs, capabilities, and limitations of the elderly and other special populationsApplying human factors principles to reduce inpatient falls50
Augmented cognition“Development and application of real-time physiological and neurophysiological sensing technologies that can ascertain a human's cognitive state while interacting with computing-based systems”Designing tools that can transmit feedback to the surgeon to improve laparoscopic grasp control44
Cognitive engineering and decision making“Research on human cognition and decision making and the application of this knowledge to the design of systems and training programmes”Identifying cues and strategies experienced nurses use to recognise infants at risk for sepsis and necrotising enterocolitis to guide the design of training and decision support51 52
CommunicationHuman-to-human communication, especially when mediated by technologyComparing the information accuracy of manual versus electronic patient status boards in emergency departments53
Human performance modelling“Development and application of predictive, reliable and executable quantitative models of human performance”Model-based simulations to investigate how and why age and localised muscle fatigue affect postural control and fall risks54
Industrial ergonomics“Application of ergonomics data and principles for improving safety, productivity and quality of work in industry”The design of a workstation for radiologists using appropriate ergonomic and biomechanics data
Macroergonomics“Organisational design and management issues in human factors and ergonomics as well as work system design and human–organisation interface technology”Evaluating system components at various organisational levels (eg, drug route; nurse to patient ratios; medication administration policies) and modifying them in a coordinated manner to aid safe medication administration during shift change27
Perception and performance“Perception and its relation to human performance”Designing and evaluating visual, audio and combined displays for anasthesiologists55
Product design“Developing consumer products that are useful, usable, safe and desirable”Redesigning epinephrine autoinjectors for patients in an effort to reduce injection errors during anaphylaxis56
Safety“Development and application of human factors technology as it relates to safety”Integrating human factors principles into the design of a kit for central line insertion to reduce cognitive burden for healthcare workers, promote best practices and prevent infections57
Training“Training system design and evaluation, innovative technologies for training, and instructional design and implementation”Developing evidence-based practices for debriefing medical teams, as a mechanism for training and the development of a learning environment58
UsabilityMeasurement of the quality of a user's experience when interacting with a product or system59Comparative, usability evaluation with clinicians to assess two different designs for computerised clinical reminders46
  • Unless otherwise noted, descriptions, including those in quotations, are derived from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Technical Groups.60