Human Factors Transforming Healthcare

Enhancing healthcare practices through applied and embedded human factors

What is Human Factors?

The International Ergonomics Association (IEA) defines "human factors" as “the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.”

Human Factors engineers evaluate and design the interactions of people, tasks, environment, technology, and organizations, to make sure the interactions are compatible with the needs, abilities and limitations.

Why do we need HF in healthcare?

The healthcare work system is complex with multiple human-system interactions. Due to the complications, medical errors have become the third leading cause of patient death. 


Evidence has shown that human factors has been able to address the work system complications and improve patient safety. Human factors have been effectively utilized in health care to address patient safety issues. Examples include the design of usable and safe medical devices and health IT, new barcoding medication administration (BCMA), physical design of the OR layout.

​What do embedded HF practitioners do within healthcare?

  1. Identify design flaws in medical devices

  2. Enhance human-technology interaction

  3. Evaluate health information technology

  4. Design less error-prone processes of care

  5. Improve the quality of patient-centered care

  6. Improve work environment in the healthcare settings

What can HFTH do for me?

The goal of HFTH is to provide resources for HF practitioners, providers, and hospitals looking to successfully apply HF principles in their organizations. However, our hope is that this network will also provide resources to those who may be considering a career in HF, such as students, faculty, industry partners, and more.


For HF practitioners already embedded in their own institutions, the network should be a place where ideas and projects can be discussed with their peers. Faculty and students may find internship opportunities, shared research projects, and networking opportunities. Hospital staff may find job descriptions, ROI for embedded practitioners, and guest lecture opportunities useful.


Hopefully, there is something for anyone. And if there is something missing, please feel free to reach out to us below or in the Contact section.

Mon, Oct 05
Online Format
HFES 64th International Annual Meeting
Thu, Oct 29
Virtual Brainstorm
First HFTH Brainstorm Session

View our 4th HFTH Webinar: Racial Disparities & Equity in Healthcare 

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and events taking place across the United States, HFTH hosted our 4th webinar focused on racial disparities and equity within healthcare systems.

Andrea Cooks, MS, is an embedded Human Factors Engineer/Consultant at Cincinnati Children's Hospital in Ohio. Andrea shares her personal story of racial inequities experienced while seeking care for her mother in the healthcare system and how these experiences motivated her to seek employment in a hospital. She works every day to fix the "leak" in the healthcare system, with the mission to help all people who enter the system, no matter what they look like, where they live or who they are.


Ray Chan, MD, is a Pediatric Hospitalist and Human Factors Physician Scientist at Children's Mercy Hospital Kansas City. Ray discusses how racial disparities are perpetuated within the healthcare system through the use of evidence based medicine. Research is extremely important to Ray and many of the epidemiological and peer reviewed studies that physicians are taught and use to make diagnoses, rely heavily on a patient's race.

Nonye Madu, MPH, is the Enterprise Improvement Advisor at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Center for Healthcare Quality and Analytics. Nonye discusses her ongoing quest to make health equity an institutional strategic priority at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Her quality improvement (QI) research revealed to hospital leadership that broad standardization does not help all patients in an equitable fashion. As a result, a Health Equity QI Steering Committee was formed, which works to ensure that equity is a prevalent factor in all QI projects. Nonye is working to determine what barriers healthcare systems have put in place that prevent patients from getting the best care possible and knows that an HF perspective would be an extremely valuable addition to better understanding these barriers.

Myrtede Alfred, PhD, is a Research Assistant Professor with the Department of Anesthesia & Perioperative Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. Myrtede discusses the decades of racial disparities in maternal health and explains racism's continuous influence on medicine. She shares her findings on the extreme discrepancies of maternal mortality rates between black women and white women in the U.S. due to racial disparities and "race as biology." Her research shows that these disparities are built into healthcare systems. There has not been much HF research or involvement in reducing health disparities or marginalized communities, but Myrtede believes that there are many benefits in embedded HF practitioners assisting to reduce the issue of race in healthcare.


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