Are We There Yet? Human Factors Knowledge and Health Information Technology - the Challenges of Implementation and Impact

Yearb Med Inform. 2017 Aug;26(1):84-91. doi: 10.15265/IY-2017-014. Epub 2017 Sep 11.


Objective: To review the developments in human factors (HF) research on the challenges of health information technology (HIT) implementation and impact given the continuing incidence of usability problems and unintended consequences from HIT development and use. Methods: A search of PubMed/Medline and Web of Science® identified HF research published in 2015 and 2016. Electronic health records (EHRs) and patient-centred HIT emerged as significant foci of recent HF research. The authors selected prominent papers highlighting ongoing HF and usability challenges in these areas. This selective rather than systematic review of recent HF research highlights these key challenges and reflects on their implications on the future impact of HF research on HIT. Results: Research provides evidence of continued poor design, implementation, and usability of HIT, as well as technology-induced errors and unintended consequences. The paper highlights support for: (i) strengthening the evidence base on the benefits of HF approaches; (ii) improving knowledge translation in the implementation of HF approaches during HIT design, implementation, and evaluation; (iii) increasing transparency, governance, and enforcement of HF best practices at all stages of the HIT system development life cycle. Discussion and Conclusion: HF and usability approaches are yet to become embedded as integral components of HIT development, implementation, and impact assessment. As HIT becomes ever-more pervasive including with patients as end-users, there is a need to expand our conceptualisation of the problems to be addressed and the suite of tactics and strategies to be used to calibrate our pro-active involvement in its improvement.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Ergonomics*
  • Humans
  • Medical Informatics*
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized*
  • User-Computer Interface