As the application of lean in healthcare expands, further research is needed in at least two areas: first, on the role of context in shaping lean and its consequences and second, on how healthcare workers perceive lean. Accordingly, this context-sensitive, mixed methods study addressed how hospital workers' perceptions of lean varied across contexts in three Swedish hospitals. Registered nurses and physicians at the hospitals and across units differing in acuity completed standardized surveys (N=236, 57% response rate) about their perceptions of hospital-wide lean implementation. Perceptions varied by: hospital context, with one hospital's employees reporting the least favorable perceptions; unit acuity, with higher-acuity units reporting more favorable perceptions; and professional role, with nurses reporting more favorable perceptions than physicians. Individual interviews, group interviews, and observations provided insight about these dissimilar contexts and possible explanations for context-specific variability. Findings are discussed with respect to strategies for implementing lean in healthcare; the importance of attending to levels, context, and worker consequences of lean; and directions for future research.
Lean healthcare; mixed methods; macroergonomics; Swedish hospitals; worker perceptions
Human factors and ergonomics approaches have been successfully applied to study and improve the work performance of healthcare professionals. However, there has been relatively little work in “patient-engaged human factors,” or the application of human factors to the health-related work of patients and other nonprofessionals. This study applied a foundational human factors tool, the systems model, to investigate the barriers to self-care performance among chronically ill elderly patients and their informal (family) caregivers. A Patient Work System model was developed to guide the collection and analysis of interviews, surveys, and observations of patients with heart failure (n=30) and their informal caregivers (n=14). Iterative analyses revealed the nature and prevalence of self-care barriers across components of the Patient Work System. Person-related barriers were common and stemmed from patients’ biomedical conditions, limitations, knowledge deficits, preferences, and perceptions as well as the characteristics of informal caregivers and healthcare professionals. Task barriers were also highly prevalent and included task difficulty, timing, complexity, ambiguity, conflict, and undesirable consequences. Tool barriers were related to both availability and access of tools and technologies and their design, usability, and impact. Context barriers were found across three domains—physical-spatial, social-cultural, and organizational—and multiple “spaces” such as “at home,” “on the go,” and “in the community.” Barriers often stemmed not from single factors but from the interaction of several work system components. Study findings suggest the need to further explore multiple actors, context, and interactions in the patient work system during research and intervention design, as well as the need to develop new models and measures for studying patient and family work.
Work system; healthcare; patients; heart failure; aging
Designing patient-centered consumer health informatics (CHI) applications requires understanding and creating alignment with patients’ and their family members’ health-related activities, referred to here as ‘patient work’. A patient work approach to CHI draws on medical social science and human factors engineering models and simultaneously attends to patients, their family members, activities, and context. A patient work approach extends existing approaches to CHI design that are responsive to patients’ biomedical realities and personal skills and behaviors. It focuses on the embeddedness of patients’ health management in larger processes and contexts and prioritizes patients’ perspectives on illness management. Future research is required to advance (1) theories of patient work, (2) methods for assessing patient work, and (3) techniques for translating knowledge of patient work into CHI application design. Advancing a patient work approach within CHI is integral to developing and deploying consumer-facing technologies that are integrated with patients’ everyday lives.
Patients and Families; Consumer Health Informatics; Work Systems; Chronic Illness Trajectory; User-Centered Design
The most common change facing nurses today is new technology, particularly bar coded medication administration technology (BCMA). However, there is a dearth of knowledge on how BCMA alters nursing work. This study investigated how BCMA technology affected nursing work, particularly nurses’ operational problem-solving behavior. Cognitive systems engineering observations and interviews were conducted after the implementation of BCMA in three nursing units of a freestanding pediatric hospital. Problem-solving behavior, associated problems, and goals, were specifically defined and extracted from observed episodes of care. Three broad themes regarding BCMA’s impact on problem solving were identified. First, BCMA allowed nurses to invent new problem-solving behavior to deal with pre-existing problems. Second, BCMA made it difficult or impossible to apply some problem-solving behaviors that were commonly used pre-BCMA, often requiring nurses to use potentially risky workarounds to achieve their goals. Third, BCMA created new problems that nurses were either able to solve using familiar or novel problem-solving behaviors, or unable to solve effectively. Results from this study shed light on hidden hazards and suggest three critical design needs: (1) ecologically valid design; (2) anticipatory control; and (3) basic usability. Principled studies of the actual nature of clinicians’ work, including problem solving, are necessary to uncover hidden hazards and to inform health information technology design and redesign.
Adaptation; problem solving; health information technology; bar coded medication administration (BCMA); nursing
To identify predictors of nurses' acceptance of bar coded medication administration (BCMA).
Cross-sectional survey of registered nurses (N=83) at an academic pediatric hospital that recently implemented BCMA.
Surveys assessed seven BCMA-related perceptions: ease of use; usefulness for the job; social influence from non-specific others to use BCMA; training; technical support; usefulness for patient care; and social influence from patients/families. An all possible subset regression procedure with five goodness-of-fit indicators was used to identify which set of perceptions best predicted BCMA acceptance (intention to use, satisfaction).
Nurses reported a moderate perceived ease of use and low perceived usefulness of BCMA. Nurses perceived moderate-or-higher social influence to use BCMA and had moderately positive perceptions of BCMA-related training and technical support. Behavioral intention to use BCMA was high, but satisfaction was low. Behavioral intention to use was best predicted by perceived ease of use, perceived social influence from non-specific others, and perceived usefulness for patient care (56% of variance explained). Satisfaction was best predicted by perceived ease of use, perceived usefulness for patient care, and perceived social influence from patients/families (76% of variance explained).
Variation in and low scores on ease of use and usefulness are concerning, especially as these variables often correlate with acceptance, as found in this study. Predicting acceptance benefited from using a broad set of perceptions and adapting variables to the healthcare context.
Success with BCMA and other technologies can benefit from assessing end-user acceptance and elucidating the factors promoting acceptance and use.
Bar coded medication administration systems; BCMA; technology acceptance; TAM; implementation science; pediatric hospital; human factors
The safety benefits of bar-coded medication dispensing and administration technology (BCMA) depend on its intended users favorably perceiving, accepting, and ultimately using the technology.
(1) To describe pharmacy workers’ perceptions and acceptance of a recently implemented BCMA system and (2) to model the relationship between perceptions and acceptance of BCMA.
Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians at a Midwest US pediatric hospital were surveyed following the hospital’s implementation of a BCMA system. Twenty-nine pharmacists and ten technicians’ self-reported perceptions and acceptance of the BCMA system were analyzed, supplemented by qualitative observational and free-response survey data. Perception-acceptance associations were analyzed using structural models.
The BCMA system’s perceived ease of use was rated low by pharmacists and moderate by pharmacy technicians. Both pharmacists and technicians perceived that the BCMA system was not useful for improving either personal job performance or patient care. Pharmacy workers perceived that individuals important to them encouraged BMCA use. Pharmacy workers generally intended to use BCMA but reported low satisfaction with the system. Perceptions explained 72% of the variance in intention to use BCMA and 79% of variance in satisfaction with BCMA.
To promote their acceptance and use, BCMA and other technologies must be better designed and integrated into the clinical work system. Key steps to achieving better design and integration include measuring clinicians’ acceptance and elucidating perceptions and other factors that shape acceptance.
bar coded medication dispensing and administration systems; BCMA; technology acceptance; pediatric hospital
When barcode medication administration (BCMA) is implemented nurses are required to integrate not only a new set of procedures or artifacts into everyday work, but also an orientation to medication safety itself that is sometimes at odds with their own. This paper describes how the nurses’ orientation (the Practice Frame) can collide with the orientation that is represented by the technology and its implementation (the System Frame), resulting in adaptations at the individual and organization levels.
The paper draws on two qualitative research studies that examined the implementation of BCMA in inpatient settings using observation and ethnographic fieldwork, content analysis of email communications, and interviews with healthcare professionals.
Two frames of reference are described: the System Frame and the Practice Frame. We found collisions of these frames that prompted adaptations at the individual and organization levels. The System Frame was less integrated and flexible than the Practice Frame, less able to account for all of the dimensions of everyday patient care to which medication administration is tied.
Collisions in frames during implementation of new technology result in adaptations at the individual and organization level that can have a variety of effects. We found adaptations to be a means of evolving both the work routines and the technology. Understanding the frames of clinical workers when new technology is being designed and implemented can inform changes to technology or organizational structure and policy that can preclude unproductive or unsafe adaptations.
Barcode medication administration; adaptations; workarounds; unintended consequences; orienting frames
Healthcare practitioners, patient safety leaders, educators, and researchers increasingly recognize the value of human factors/ergonomics and make use of the discipline’s person-centered models of sociotechnical systems. This paper first reviews one of the most widely used healthcare human factors systems models, the Systems Engineering Initiative for Patient Safety (SEIPS) model, and then introduces an extended model, “SEIPS 2.0.” SEIPS 2.0 incorporates three novel concepts into the original model: configuration, engagement, and adaptation. The concept of configuration highlights the dynamic, hierarchical, and interactive properties of sociotechnical systems, making it possible to depict how health-related performance is shaped at “a moment in time.” Engagement conveys that various individuals and teams can perform health-related activities separately and collaboratively. Engaged individuals often include patients, family caregivers, and other non-professionals. Adaptation is introduced as a feedback mechanism that explains how dynamic systems evolve in planned and unplanned ways. Key implications and future directions for human factors research in healthcare are discussed.
healthcare; work system; patient-centered care; patient and family engagement; SEIPS model
Violations of safety protocols are paths to adverse outcomes that have been poorly addressed by existing safety efforts. This study reports on nurses' self-reported violations in the medication administration process.
To assess the extent of violations in the medication administration process among nurses.
Design, Setting, & Participants
Participants were 199 nurses from two U.S. urban, academic, tertiary care, free-standing pediatric hospitals who worked in: a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), a hematology-oncology-transplant (HOT) unit, or a medical-surgical (Med/Surg) unit. In a cross-sectional survey, nurses were asked about violations in routine or emergency situations in three steps of the medication administration process.
Main Outcome Measure
Self-reported violations of three medication administration protocols were made using a 7-point 0-6 scale from “not at all” to “a great deal.”
Analysis of variance identified that violation reports were highest for emergency situations, rather than for routine operations, highest by HOT unit nurses, followed by PICU nurses, and then Med/Surge unit nurses, and highest during patient identification checking, followed by matching a medication to a medication administration record, and then documenting an administration. There was also a significant 3-way interaction among Violation Situation, Step in the process, and Unit, which is explained in detail in the Results.
Protocol violations occur throughout the medication administration process and their prevalence varies as a function of hospital Unit, Step in the process, and Violation Situation. Further research is required to determine whether these violations improve or worsen safety, and for those that worsen safety, how to redesign the system of administration to reduce the need to violate protocol in order to accomplish job tasks.
Patient safety; Compliance; Medication Administration; Violation; Compliance; Human error; Human factors; Medical error; measurement/epidemiology; Patient safety
The release of the Institute of Medicine (Kohn et al., 2000) report “To Err is Human”, brought attention to the problem of medical errors, which led to a concerted effort to study and design medical error reporting systems for the purpose of capturing and analyzing error data so that safety interventions could be designed. However, to make real gains in the efficacy of medical error or event reporting systems, it is necessary to begin developing a theory of reporting systems adoption and use and to understand how existing theories may play a role in explaining adoption and use. This paper presents the results of a 9-month study exploring the barriers and facilitators for the design of a statewide medical error reporting system and discusses how several existing theories of technology acceptance, adoption and implementation fit with many of the results. In addition we present an integrated theoretical model of medical error reporting system design and implementation.
Patient safety; Medical error; Reporting systems
Increasing interest in end users’ reactions to health information technology (IT) has elevated the importance of theories that predict and explain health IT acceptance and use. This paper reviews the application of one such theory, the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), to health care. We reviewed 16 data sets analyzed in over 20 studies of clinicians using health IT for patient care. Studies differed greatly in samples and settings, health ITs studied, research models, relationships tested, and construct operationalization. Certain TAM relationships were consistently found to be significant, whereas others were inconsistent. Several key relationships were infrequently assessed. Findings show that TAM predicts a substantial portion of the use or acceptance of health IT, but that the theory may benefit from several additions and modifications. Aside from improved study quality, standardization, and theoretically motivated additions to the model, an important future direction for TAM is to adapt the model specifically to the health care context, using beliefs elicitation methods.
Technology use; behavior; health information technology; technology acceptance model
Lean Production is a dominant approach in Swedish and global manufacturing and service industries. Studies of Lean’s employee effects are few and contradictory.
Employee effects from Lean are likely not uniform. This paper investigates the effect of employees' participation on their experiences of Lean.
This study investigated how different packages of employee participation in Lean affected manufacturing workers’ experiences of Lean. During 2008–2011, qualitative and quantitative data were collected from Swedish manufacturing companies participating in the national Swedish Lean Production program Produktionslyftet. Data from 129 surveys (28 companies), 39 semi-structured interviews, and 30 reports were analyzed. In the main analysis, comparisons were made of the survey-reported Lean experiences of employees in three groups: temporary group employees (N = 36), who participated in Lean mostly through intermittent projects; continuous group employees (N = 69), who participated through standing improvement groups; and combined group employees (N = 24), who participated in both ways.
Continuous group employees had the most positive experience of Lean, followed by the combined group. Temporary group employees had the least positive experiences, being less likely than their counterparts to report that Lean improved teamwork, occupational safety, and change-related learning, decision making, and authority.
These findings support the importance of continuous, structured opportunities for participation but raise the possibility that more participation may result in greater workload and role overload, mitigating some benefits of employee involvement. Consequently, companies should consider involving employees in change efforts but should attend to the specific design of participation activities.
Organizational human factors; macroergonomics; Organizational change; Job design; Quality of working life; Lean Production
Social structures and processes are increasingly acknowledged and studied within the human factors/ergonomics (HFE) discipline. At the same time, social phenomena are rarely the focus of HFE work, leaving a knowledge gap. The present study directly addresses social and personal normative forces that influence technology use and performance. Social and personal normative influence to use electronic health records (EHR) were investigated using semi-structured qualitative interviews with 20 attending physicians at two US hospitals. Analyses used a comprehensive framework based on leading social scientific theories and revealed numerous sources of influence, including hospital administration, colleagues, patients, clinical and professional groups, government, and one’s self. Influence was achieved through different means and invoked different psychological processes. Findings motivate a new view of professionals’ technology use as a highly social process occurring in a social context, with implications for research, policy, design, and in general the development of a robust social ergonomics.
social ergonomics; sociotechnical systems; social influence; electronic health records; healthcare
For electronic health records (EHR) systems to have a positive impact on patient safety, clinicians must be able to use these systems effectively after they are made available. This study's objective is to identify and describe facilitators and barriers to physicians' use of EHR systems.
Twenty research interviews were conducted with attending physicians who were using EHR at one of two Midwest community hospitals and/or at their respective outpatient clinics.
Analyses yielded over 200 perceived facilitators and barriers, comprising 19 distinct categories. Categories of facilitators/barriers related to user attributes included learning, typing proficiency, understanding the EHR system, motivation/initiative, and strategies/workarounds. Categories related to system attributes were supporting hardware/software and system speed, functionality, and usability. Categories related to support from others were formal technical support, formal training, and informal support from colleagues. Categories of organizational facilitators/barriers were time allowance and inter-institutional integration. Categories of environmental facilitators/barriers were physical space, electricity, wireless connectivity, and the social environment.
Together, the broad set of discovered facilitators and barriers confirms and expands prior research on the facilitators and barriers to health information technology use. The depth of reported information on each facilitator and barrier made possible by qualitative interview methods contributes to the theoretical understanding of facilitators and barriers to EHR use. Equally as important, this study provides an information base from which relevant policy and design interventions can be launched in order to improve the use of EHR systems and, thus, patient safety.
Health information technology (IT) is widely endorsed as a way to improve key health care outcomes, particularly patient safety. Applying a human factors approach, this paper models more explicitly how health IT might improve or worsen outcomes. The human factors model specifies that health IT transforms the work system, which transforms the process of care, which in turn transforms the outcome of care. This study reports on transformations of the medication administration process that resulted from the implementation of one type of IT: bar coded medication administration (BCMA). Registered nurses at two large pediatric hospitals in the US participated in a survey administered before and after one of the hospitals implemented BCMA. Nurses’ perceptions of the administration process changed at the hospital that implemented BCMA, whereas perceptions of nurses at the control hospital did not. BCMA appeared to improve the safety of the processes of matching medications to the medication administration record and checking patient identification. The accuracy, usefulness, and consistency of checking patient identification improved as well. In contrast, nurses’ perceptions of the usefulness, time efficiency, and ease of the documentation process decreased post-BCMA. Discussion of survey findings is supplemented by observations and interviews at the hospital that implemented BCMA. By considering the way that IT transforms the work system and the work process a practitioner can better predict the kind of outcomes that the IT might produce. More importantly, the practitioner can achieve or prevent outcomes of interest by using design and redesign aimed at controlling work system and process transformations.
health information technology; bar coded medication administration; process change; patient safety; human factors engineering
There is growing interest in applying lean thinking in healthcare, yet, there is still limited knowledge of how and why lean interventions succeed (or fail). To address this gap, this in-depth case study examines a lean-inspired intervention in a Swedish pediatric Accident and Emergency department.
We used a mixed methods explanatory single case study design. Hospital performance data were analyzed using analysis of variance (ANOVA) and statistical process control techniques to assess changes in performance one year before and two years after the intervention. We collected qualitative data through non-participant observations, semi-structured interviews, and internal documents to describe the process and content of the lean intervention. We then analyzed empirical findings using four theoretical lean principles (Spear and Bowen 1999) to understand how and why the intervention worked in its local context as well as to identify its strengths and weaknesses.
Improvements in waiting and lead times (19-24%) were achieved and sustained in the two years following lean-inspired changes to employee roles, staffing and scheduling, communication and coordination, expertise, workspace layout, and problem solving. These changes resulted in improvement because they: (a) standardized work and reduced ambiguity, (b) connected people who were dependent on one another, (c) enhanced seamless, uninterrupted flow through the process, and (d) empowered staff to investigate problems and to develop countermeasures using a "scientific method". Contextual factors that may explain why not even greater improvement was achieved included: a mismatch between job tasks, licensing constraints, and competence; a perception of being monitored, and discomfort with inter-professional collaboration.
Drawing on Spear and Bowen's theoretical propositions, this study explains how a package of lean-like changes translated into better care process management. It adds new knowledge regarding how lean principles can be beneficially applied in healthcare and identifies changes to professional roles as a potential challenge when introducing lean thinking there. This knowledge may enable health care organizations and managers in other settings to configure their own lean program and to better understand the reasons behind lean's success (or failure).
Nursing workload is increasingly thought to contribute to both nurses’ quality of working life and quality/safety of care. Prior studies lack a coherent model for conceptualizing and measuring the effects of workload in health care. In contrast, we conceptualized a human factors model for workload specifying workload at three distinct levels of analysis and having multiple nurse and patient outcomes.
To test this model, we analyzed results from a cross-sectional survey of a volunteer sample of nurses in six units of two academic tertiary care pediatric hospitals.
Workload measures were generally correlated with outcomes of interest. A multivariate structural model revealed that: the unit-level measure of staffing adequacy was significantly related to job dissatisfaction (path loading = .31) and burnout (path loading = .45); the task-level measure of mental workload related to interruptions, divided attention, and being rushed was associated with burnout (path loading = .25) and medication error likelihood (path loading = 1.04). Job-level workload was not uniquely and significantly associated with any outcomes.
The human factors engineering model of nursing workload was supported by data from two pediatric hospitals. The findings provided a novel insight into specific ways that different types of workload could affect nurse and patient outcomes. These findings suggest further research and yield a number of human factors design suggestions.
workload; mental workload; patient safety; medication error; quality of working life
Pharmacy workload is a modifiable work system factor believed to affect both medication safety outcomes and employee outcomes such as job satisfaction.
This study sought to measure the effect of workload on safety and employee outcomes in two pediatric hospitals and to do so using a novel approach to pharmacy workload measurement.
Rather than measuring prescription volume or other similar indicators, this study measured the type and intensity of mental demands experienced during the medication dispensing tasks. The effects of external (interruptions, divided attention, rushing) and internal (concentration, effort) task demands on perceived medication error likelihood, adverse drug event likelihood, job dissatisfaction, and burnout were statistically estimated using multiple linear and logistic regression.
Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians reported high levels of external and internal mental demands during dispensing. The study supported the hypothesis that external demands (interruptions, divided attention, rushing) negatively impacted medication safety and employee well being outcomes. However, as hypothesized, increasing levels of internal demands (concentration and effort) were not associated with greater perceived likelihood of error, adverse drug events, or burnout, and even had a positive effect on job satisfaction.
Replicating a prior study in nursing, this study shows that new conceptualizations and measures of workload can generate important new findings about both detrimental and beneficial effects of workload on patient safety and employee well being. This study discusses what those findings imply for policy, management, and design concerning automation, cognition, and staffing.
Workload; mental demands; medication error; safety; employee well being; human factors
Person-centered safety theories that place the burden of causality on human traits and actions have been largely dismissed in favor of systems-centered theories. Students and practitioners are now taught that accidents are caused by multiple factors and occur due to the complex interactions of numerous work system elements, human and non-human. Nevertheless, person-centered approaches to safety management still prevail. This paper explores the notion that attributing causality and blame to people persists because it is both a fundamental psychological tendency as well as an industry norm that remains strong in aviation, health care, and other industries. Consequences of that possibility are discussed and a case is made for continuing to invest in whole-system design and engineering solutions.
According to the human factors paradigm for patient safety, health care work systems and innovations such as electronic medical records do not have direct effects on patient safety. Instead, their effects are contingent on how the clinical work system, whether computerized or not, shapes health care providers' performance of cognitive work processes. An application of the human factors paradigm to interview data from two hospitals in the Midwest United States yielded numerous examples of the performance-altering effects of electronic medical records, electronic clinical documentation, and computerized provider order entry. Findings describe both improvements and decrements in the ease and quality of cognitive performance, both for interviewed clinicians and for their colleagues and patients. Changes in cognitive performance appear to have desirable and undesirable implications for patient safety as well as for quality of care and other important outcomes. Cognitive performance can also be traced to interactions between work system elements, including new technology, allowing for the discovery of problems with “fit” to be addressed through design interventions.
Human factors; health information technology; electronic medical records; patient safety; cognitive work performance
To identify and describe physicians' beliefs about use of electronic medical records (EMR) and computerized provider order entry (CPOE) for inpatient and outpatient care, to build an understanding of what factors shape information technology (IT) use behavior in the unique context of health care delivery.
Semi-structured qualitative research interviews were carried out, following the beliefs elicitation approach. Twenty physicians from two large Midwest US hospitals participated. Physicians were asked questions to elicit beliefs and experiences pertaining to their use of EMR and CPOE. Questions were based on a broad set of behavior-shaping beliefs and the methods commonly used to elicit those beliefs.
Qualitative analysis revealed numerous themes related to the perceived emotional and instrumental outcomes of EMR and CPOE use; perceived external and personal normative pressure to use those systems; perceived volitional control over use behavior; perceived facilitators and barriers to system use; and perceptions about the systems and how they were implemented. EMR and CPOE were commonly believed to both improve and worsen the ease and quality of personal performance, productivity and efficiency, and patient outcomes. Physicians felt encouraged by employers and others to use the systems but also had personal role-related and moral concerns about doing so. Perceived facilitators and barriers were numerous and had their sources in all aspects of the work system.
Given the breadth and detail of elicited beliefs, numerous design and policy implications can be identified. Additionally, the findings are a first step toward developing a theory of health IT acceptance and use contextualized to the unique setting of health care.
electronic medical records; computerized provider order entry; beliefs elicitation; theory of planned behavior