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Understanding the Importance of Human Factors Engineering in Relation to the Healthcare Setting


Sarah Krein, PhD, RN, health services researcher & research scientist at VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, stresses that all clinicians should understand the principles behind human factors and how it applies to their own disciplines.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“I think for infection prevention clinicians, infection preventionists, [and] infectious diseases physicians, what’s important is to understand some of the principles behind human factors and how that might apply in the work that they’re doing. What I would encourage them to do is begin to understand that this discipline exists.
There [are] a lot of design principles related to human factors which really [focus] on the activities of the individual, the healthcare professionals, for example, the human in the equation, as well as the system which is the principle behind human factors and how we can use those design principles around various physical design principles.
There [are] principles related to how people cognitively process information [and] there [are] organizational features related to design to help improve both the work processes as well as the environment for the clinician who’s expected to perform certain tasks. Human factors, I think for any clinician, is to understand that this discipline exists, understand some of the principles behind it, but then also to become engaged with others who have the expertise in this discipline and perhaps work with them to help improve some of the things that they feel are important in their clinical settings, to collaborate with human factors engineers and other disciplines, to help think about how they can redesign the work system using the cognitive principles, to encourage certain behaviors among clinicians that we know are important for reducing risk of disease or transmission of disease, or making the healthcare environment safer, both for the patients and for healthcare professionals.”
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