Human factors and health information technology: current challenges and future directions

V. L. Patel, T. G. Kannampallil

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Recent federal mandates and incentives have spurred the rapid growth, development and adoption of health information technology (HIT). While providing significant benefits for better data integration, organization, and availability, recent reports have raised questions regarding their potential to cause medication errors, decreased clinician performance, and lowered efficiency. The goal of this survey article is to (a) examine the theoretical and foundational models of human factors and ergonomics (HFE) that are being advocated for achieving patient safety and quality, and their use in the evaluation of healthcare systems; (b) and the potential for macroergonomic HFE approaches within the context of current research in biomedical informatics.

METHODS: We reviewed literature (2007-2013) on the use of HFE approaches in healthcare settings, from databases such as Pubmed, CINAHL, and Cochran.

CONCLUSIONS: The use of HFE methods is still in its infancy - better integration of HFE within the design lifecycle, and quality improvement efforts can further the ability of informatics researchers to address the key concerns regarding the complexity in clinical settings and develop HIT solutions that are designed within the social fabric of the considered setting.

RESULTS: Based on the review, we discuss the systems-oriented models, their use in the evaluation of HIT, and examples of their use in the evaluation of EHR systems, clinical workflow processes, and medication errors. We also discuss the opportunities for better integrating HFE methods within biomedical informatics research and its potential advantages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-66
Number of pages9
JournalYearbook of medical informatics
StatePublished - Aug 15 2014


  • Systems-oriented approach
  • human factors
  • macroergonomics
  • patient safety
  • socio-technical frameworks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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