The Human Factors Engineering for Health Informatics (HFE-HI) network

Rationale: The last decade has seen an increasing number of studies in innovative technologies for healthcare and medical informatics focusing on topics such as usability, human factors, user-centred design, user acceptance, or ergonomics. Usability studies prove to have a great impact on user acceptance of new applications, and the ergonomic quality of a product is considered a powerful leverage for its distribution and dissemination. Moreover, they also prove very useful in preventing new categories of medical errors generated by inadequately designed applications or medical devices, i.e. “technology-induced” errors or use errors. The human factors engineering approach can efficiently assist Biomedical and Health IT Industry in employing user-centred design principles when designing, developing and implementing new applications and technologies for clinical use. In order to improve patient safety and prevent use errors, the recently revised EU Medical Device Directive imposes since March 2010 that manufacturers adopt a user-centred approach to the design of their product and document it in a usability file to be integrated in the risk management process and presented for CE marking certification.

Objectives: the HFE-Hi network gathers European and north-American teams competent in Human Factors Engineering and usability for health technologies. Their objective is to constantly improve and harmonize methodologies and methods used for the study of usability and acceptance of innovative information technologies: analysis of the context of use, usability evaluation and optimisation, user-centred design methods, simulation, medical error reporting and analysis.


The members of the HFE-HI network who will constitute the HFE taskforce are listed below.

– France –

Marie-Catherine Beuscart-Zéphir, PhD, began to investigate Human Factor questions in Medical Informatics projects in the 90s. In 2000 she founded the Evalab, a usability lab dedicated to eHealth and technologies for healthcare, which is integrated in the CIC-IT of the University hospital of Lille. Marie-Catherine Beuscart-Zéphir has acted as cochair to the IMIA WG on Human Factors for six years and is currently co-chair of EFMI WG on Human and Organizational Factors for Medical Informatics.


– Austria –

Elske Ammenwerth, PhD, Professor for health informatics and director of the Institute of Health Informatics at UMIT since 2005 works on tactical and strategic management of health information systems (process management and optimization, methodology and practice of evaluation of IT in health care and IT benchmarking). She is leading since 2003 the Working Group on Assessment of Health Information Systems of EFMI (European Federation for Health Informatics).


– Netherlands –

Monique W. M. Jaspers, PhD, is Professor of Biomedical Informatics at the Department of Medical Informatics -Academic Medical Center (AMC)- University of Amsterdam. She is scientific director of the Educational Institute Medical Informatics of the AMC. Her research team works on requirements analyses, prototyping, usability testing and implementation efforts of healthcare technologies. She heads the Center of Human Factors Engineering of Health Information Technology (HIT-lab) of the AMC and Educational Institute of Medical Informatics of the University of Amsterdam.

Jan Talmon is an expert on evaluation of eHealth. He has been involved in several EU projects for which he contributed to the evaluation methodologies and evaluation studies. He has been chair of IMIA’s working group on technology assessment and quality improvement and is currently co-chair of AMIA’s working group on evaluation and an active contributor to EFMI’s working group on evaluation. He is part of the Dutch delegation in ISO TC215 and is responsible for the draft ISO 13131 TS on Quality criteria for Services and Systems for TeleHealth.


– Germany –

Ralph Bruder, PhD, is university professor for ergonomics in design at the University of Essen. He is the director of the Institute of Ergonomics (IAD) at the Darmstadt University of Technology (TU Darmstadt). Prof. Bruder is President of the German Society of Ergonomics, member of the Executive Committee of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA), and member of advisory boards for several national and international institutions.

Christian Nøhr, (Denmark), PhD, is Professor in Health Informatics at Department of Development and Planning at Aalborg University in Denmark, and Director for the Danish Centre for Health Informatics. He has been project manager for Aalborg University’s participation in a number of European projects: EDUCTRA, IT-EDUCTRA, Vico, Babel, and PSIP. He has been organizing several international conferences for human factors and sociotechnical approaches to health informatics issues.


– Norway –

Dag Svanaes, PhD, is Full Professor at the Department of Computer and Information Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Trondheim, Norway). He has 20 years’ experience as researcher and educator in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). Since 2004, he has been running a usability laboratory for health informatics as part of the Norwegian National Centre for Research on Electronic Medical Record (NSEP). He is Norwegian representative to IFIP TC13 Human-Computer Interaction.

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