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Published: 07 February 2024

Human Factors in Irish Healthcare 2018-2023

The Irish health service faces many challenges to the delivery of safe, efficient and effective care to patients. The application of the science, practices and principles of Human Factors Ergonomics (HFE) can support a systematic investigation and understanding of these challenges in order to identify appropriate interventions to address these issues.

What is Human Factors Ergonomics?

Human Factors Ergonomics (HFE) is an applied science which aims to enhance human and system performance in complex systems. The International Ergonomics Association (IEA) defines HFE as ‘ the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimise human wellbeing and overall system performance. Healthcare HFE involves the rigorous application of multiple academic disciplines (e.g. engineering, psychology) with the aim of improving patient safety, quality of care, efficiency, and staff wellbeing.

Why do we need Human Factors Ergonomics?

In its commitment to the Patient Safety Strategy (2019-2024) the HSE recognises human factors information and training as key to enhancing “the capacity and capability of health and social care services and staff to improve patient safety. Similarly, the WHO in its Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021-2030 recognises that HFE is essential “to the creation of high-reliability, resilient health care systems and organisations”.

HSE Human Factors Research Group

Since the publication of the Introduction to Human Factors for Healthcare Workers the National Quality & Patient Safety Directorate (NQPSD) have been linking with individuals and groups across the health system and a research collaborative, funded by the NQPSD, was convened to gather baseline data and explore key questions relating to the implementation of HFE in the Irish health system. This report is an early output from the work of the group and it is presented in two parts:

  1. Human Factors in Irish Healthcare 2018-2023 A snapshot of the of education, research and publications related to Human Factors activity in Irish healthcare over the past 5 years.
  2. Healthcare Human Factors Ergonomics - Academic publications by Irish Authors 2018-2023 A list of over 80 publications by Irish Authors in the past 5 years.