Learning to think like a user: using cognitive task analysis to meet today's health care design challenges

Biomed Instrum Technol. 1998 Sep-Oct;32(5):535-40.


The growing role of information technology in our society has changed the very nature of many of the tasks that workers are called on to perform. Technology has resulted in a dramatic reduction in the number of proceduralized, rote tasks that workers must face. The impact of technology on many tasks and functions has been to greatly increase demands on the cognitive skills of workers. More procedural or predictable tasks are now handled by smart machines, while workers are responsible for tasks that require inference, diagnosis, judgment, and decision making. The increase in the cognitive demands placed on workers and the redistribution of tasks have created a need for a better understanding of the cognitive components of many tasks. This need has been recognized by many in the health care domain, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Recent FDA regulations encourage the use of human factors in the development of medical devices, instruments, and systems. One promising set of methods for filling this need is cognitive task analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Engineering / instrumentation
  • Clinical Competence
  • Cognition*
  • Cues
  • Decision Making
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Learning*
  • Medical Informatics Applications*
  • Medical Laboratory Science / instrumentation
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Thinking*
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration