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.

Upcoming Events

Thu, Aug 06
4th HFTH and COVID-19 Webinar

View our 3rd HFTH and COVID-19 Webinar

 Put your headphones on and listen as Scott Rowe shares his unique experiences co-directing a long-term residential care facility during the pandemic and Laurie Wolf, PhD, gives an engaging report on her many projects, focusing on the re-design of work systems to comply with social distancing standards.

Scott Rowe, is the owner and co-director of a long-term residential care facility in Missouri. He shares the unique challenges COVID-19 has placed on these facilities, such as the facility not being designed for isolation. Although long-term care facilities are a part of the healthcare industry, his does not have medical equipment readily available or enough PPE. Scott is working hard to keep both his residents and staff informed and safe.


Laurie Wolf, PhD, updates the network on multiple projects she is working on at Carilion Clinic in Virginia. Laurie has been busy since the beginning of the pandemic, first working to fit-test 1,000 people for N95 masks, then focusing on 3D mask printing and finally, working tirelessly to create work systems throughout the hospital to comply with 6' social distancing. She has assisted to implement 6' floor stickers throughout the hospital and elevators, physically removed seating from waiting rooms to reduce the number of occupancy as well as add plexiglass between check-in employees and patients. 

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