What is Human Factors in Healthcare?

Center Overview

Read the MedStar Human Factors Center Overview for the most recent summary of our work.


A multi-disciplinary science that sits at the intersection of psychology and engineering
Focused on understanding the interaction among humans and other elements of a system within a given environment
Applies psychological and physiological principles and theories to the design of products, processes, and systems
Improves safety, efficiency, quality, and reliability when applied effectively, while also reducing costs

Human Factors Across Industries

Human factors is used across a number of high-risk fields including automotive, aviation, defense, and healthcare in order to boost work processes, enhance safety, reduce inefficiencies, and improve quality.

The Role of Human Factors in Healthcare

Applying human factors to healthcare reduces medical errors and allows clinicians to deliver better care to their patients. We conduct rigorous research and apply scientifically-grounded principles to study and improve the interrelationship between providers, the equipment and processes they use, and the environment in which they work—with the patient as a central focus.

Human Factors Impact and Benefits: Quality: Understand provider practices and patient needs for a better patient experience and improved outcomes; Efficiency: Examine work processes to improve performance and productivity, while managing costs; Safety: Identify potential errors and redesign systems to mitigate hazards, ultimately improving patient safety

This helps to:

  • Improve patient safety and satisfaction
  • Reduce clinician burnout
  • Boost process efficiency
  • Enhance communication
  • Generate effective and sustainable solutions
  • Mitigate the risk of error
  • Optimize training
  • Design user-centered health IT solutions