A systems engineering perspective on the human-centered design of health information systems

J Biomed Inform. 2005 Feb;38(1):61-74. doi: 10.1016/j.jbi.2004.11.013.


The discipline of systems engineering, over the past five decades, has used a structured systematic approach to managing the "cradle to grave" development of products and processes. While elements of this approach are typically used to guide the development of information systems that instantiate a significant user interface, it appears to be rare for the entire process to be implemented. In fact, a number of authors have put forth development lifecycle models that are subsets of the classical systems engineering method, but fail to include steps such as incremental hazard analysis and post-deployment corrective and preventative actions. In that most health information systems have safety implications, we argue that the design and development of such systems would benefit by implementing this systems engineering approach in full. Particularly with regard to bringing a human-centered perspective to the formulation of system requirements and the configuration of effective user interfaces, this classical systems engineering method provides an excellent framework for incorporating human factors (ergonomics) knowledge and integrating ergonomists in the interdisciplinary development of health information systems.

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Intelligence*
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical*
  • Ergonomics / methods*
  • Hospital Information Systems*
  • Information Storage and Retrieval / methods*
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized*
  • Planning Techniques
  • Software Design
  • Systems Theory*
  • United States
  • User-Computer Interface*