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Embedding human factors in healthcare policy

  • Changing healthcare safety culture and practice to embed with Human Factors/Ergonomics systems thinking and design within healthcare policy.

Overview

The basis for this research is to change and improve healthcare safety for patients and staff by embedding Human Factors/Ergonomics (HFE) systems thinking and design across national and international guidance, education, policies/procedures, building and equipment design.

Research & Impact

Starting by working with clinicians, the Health and Safety Executive and Royal College of Nursing to investigate occupational safety; looking at how and why staff are exposed to musculoskeletal disorder risks (MSDs).  The first systematic review on this topic was published in 2003 and it has been used to set the standard for healthcare professional education and international guidelines.

The investigations continued with innovative research looking at contributing factors in the first research investigation to combine staff wellbeing and patient safety for mobility and care.  A method was developed to measure complex multifactorial patient handling interventions which is now used as reference by government, healthcare groups and insurance companies in the UK, USA, New Zealand, Finland, Italy, Portugal and Germany.

This research also looks at the design of buildings, ambulance and equipment for care and rehabilitation. Testing and evaluation of building designs, ambulance functionality and healthcare products such as patient hoists, pressure care products and beds have identified outcomes that have changed the design of hospitals, emergency ambulances and equipment (hoists and beds) across the world.

Investigations into applying the systems approach to healthcare lead to the creation of an information animation for practitioners to use. The research highlighted how to integrate systemic accident analysis into patient safety incident investigation practices. The systems thinking approach highlights the interaction between people, technologies and policies reducing confusion risk and requests improvement at the source.

The researchers are working with the NHS to deliver clinical education to improve safety, and example of which is the publication of the CIEHF White Paper on “Human Factors for Health & Social Care” which provides guidelines to embed sustainable system-level improvements by providing authoritative information on how HFE should be used. The research is also being used to develop national guidance, clinical training and education; reaching a wider audience.

Impact

  • Influencing national and international healthcare standards  
  • Shaping clinical product and building design guidance  
  • Directing a systematic change in occupational & patient safety practice, used by government, clinical providers & educators 
  • Training and education delivered to clinical staff and healthcare managers 
  • Systems thinking animation