organizations may affect their abilities to fully realize the benefits of health IT products intended to facilitate safer care. This chapter reflects as much as possible the literature, experiences of key stakeholders, and the committee’s expert opinion.


Technology does not exist in isolation from its operator. As such, the design and use of health IT are interdependent. The design and development of products affects their safe performance and the extent to which clinician users will accept or reject the technology. To the end user, a safely functioning health IT product is one that includes

•   Easy retrieval of accurate, timely, and reliable native and imported data;

•   A system the user wants to interact with;

•   Simple and intuitive data displays;

•   Easy navigation;

•   Evidence at the point of care to aid decision making;

•   Enhancements to workflow, automating mundane tasks, and streamlining work, never increasing physical or cognitive workload;

•   Easy transfer of information to and from other organizations and providers; and

•   No unanticipated downtime.

Investing in health IT products aims to make care safer and improve health professional workflow while not introducing harm or risks. Key features such as enhanced workflow, usability, balanced customization, and interoperability affect whether or not clinician users enjoy successful interactions with the product and achieve these aims. Effective design and development drive the safe functioning of the products as well as determine some aspects of safe use by health professionals. Collaboration among users and vendors across the continuum of technology design, including embedding products into clinical workflow and ongoing product optimization, represents a dynamic process characterized by frequent feedback and joint accountability to promote safer health IT. The combination of these activities can result in building safer systems for health IT, as summarized in Figure 4-1.

Safer Systems for Health IT Seamlessly Support Cognitive and Clinical Workflows

The cognitive work of clinicians is substantial. Clinicians must rapidly integrate large amounts of data to make decisions in unstable and complex

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement