Systems modelling approaches to the design of safe healthcare delivery: ease of use and usefulness perceived by healthcare workers

Ergonomics. 2010 Jul;53(7):829-47. doi: 10.1080/00140139.2010.489653.


The UK health service, which had been diagnosed to be seriously out of step with good design practice, has been recommended to obtain knowledge of design and risk management practice from other safety-critical industries. While these other industries have benefited from a broad range of systems modelling approaches, healthcare remains a long way behind. In order to investigate the healthcare-specific applicability of systems modelling approaches, this study identified 10 distinct methods through meta-model analysis. Healthcare workers' perception on 'ease of use' and 'usefulness' was then evaluated. The characterisation of the systems modelling methods showed that each method had particular capabilities to describe specific aspects of a complex system. However, the healthcare workers found that some of the methods, although potentially very useful, would be difficult to understand, particularly without prior experience. This study provides valuable insights into a better use of the systems modelling methods in healthcare. STATEMENT OF RELEVANCE: The findings in this study provide insights into how to make a better use of various systems modelling approaches to the design and risk management of healthcare delivery systems, which have been a growing research interest among ergonomists and human factor professionals.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Delivery of Health Care / methods*
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Organizational
  • Perception*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Management
  • Safety Management*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Systems Theory*
  • United Kingdom