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Design of Healthcare Human Factors & Ergonomics Community of Practice

Development of Community of Practice for the embedding of Human Factors and Ergonomics in Healthcare by connecting members from all disciplines and sectors to create and distribute HFE knowledge.

Read comments 20
  • Idea
  • 2018

Meet the team: Wake Up 2 Healthcare HFE

“Let’s Wake up to Human Factors – let’s make a difference”

Many healthcare professionals have heard these words spoken by Martin Bromiley, the Chair of the Clinical Human Factors Group (CHFG), in the film “Just a Routine Operation”. For many, these words have been the stimulus to find out more about how human factors and ergonomics needs to be integral to improving the care given to our patients within our health and social care system.

In 2013, the National Quality Board launched the Human Factors in Healthcare Concordat with signatories from national organisations committing to provide leadership and oversight for embedding Human Factors principles and practices into the National Health Service.

In the 5 years since the launch much has been achieved with numerous healthcare professionals becoming aware of human factors in their daily working practices, and with many organisations making strategic moves to embed such practices in their systems. However, this is a long journey for healthcare when comparisons are made with other high reliability industries such as oil & gas, nuclear, aviation and defence.

A lot of expertise has been developed around human and team performance by assistance from colleagues from these allied industries, though this is a small part of what “human factors and ergonomics” can do for health and social care, especially when the focus has tended to be around the acute care sector.

  • What could HFE do for care within the community setting oral home considering that the majority of acres undertaken outside the hospital setting?
  • How could HFE expertise assist in the design of better systems at all levels to improve both patient and staff experiences?
  • What benefit could HFE have in designing better healthcare facilities, safer equipment built around the end user, with systems such as the supply chain and digital health delivering better services?

There are numerous other similar questions that should be asked about the potential for HFE in Healthcare.

Building on the foundations of the Q Community to build the capacity, capability and network of improvement expertise, there is a need to build a network of HFE expertise to share and develop knowledge around HFE in healthcare and to influence the future strategy for embedding HFE into health and social care.

The designing and development of a Community of Practice for Human Factors and Ergonomics in Healthcare will facilitate the sharing of this knowledge with a clear aim to reach out to all sectors and to all parts of the NHS as well as international expertise to build upon the commitments laid out in the Human Factors in Healthcare Concordat. This Community of Practice will reach out far and wide outside the Q Community to ensure engagement of all interested parties wanting to embed HFE in to health and social care.

How you can contribute

  • Anyone in Q Community with an interest in Human Factors and Ergonomics to join Human Factors Special Interest Group as beginning of a Community for HFE
  • Anyone with expertise in development of COP to assist the design
  • Anyone with knowledge of the political landscape of the complex socio-technical system that is the NHS to assist with the strategic development of the COP
  • Qualified ergonomists or safety science engineers with knowledge of healthcare to provide their professional support to the Community of Practice




    Not sure if people have seen this? We have a COP at North East North Cumbria (NENC HFE COP) with a tweet account and draft charter.

  2. If you’re interested in NHS Communities of Practice (CoPs), please join Q’s CoPs special interest group’s Zoom call on 13 July (1pm) to hear about the evaluation of the Health Innovation Network’s CoPs – their challenges and their journey.
    ** More info/to register:  **
    The call will be an opportunity to glean advice and insights to help this project too.

  3. Love to see eHF to be more accessible to all colleagues working in healthcare, we have to start somewhere and glad to hear this opportunitiy is for everyone who want to participate and share.

  4. Guest

    Hi Alistair, very happy to lend my support as Chartered Ergonomist and Human Factors / Nurse to a fantastic proposal.  Jo, Programme Manager for the Clinical Human Factors Group.

  5. As well as defining some goals, you perhaps need to consider some kind of evaluations and expected outcomes or staged outcomes, resources needed and proposed expenses.

  6. Thanks Alastair for getting this one off the ground - As a Trustee of CHFG (and in personal capacity) fully support it and hope that we are able to create a CoP to connect people in this way.

  7. Hi

    We'd be really interested in the community angle of this.. completely agree that most work has been done in the acute sector, as it is easier, and there is a lack of good evidence base in community and social care.

    My concern would be around how our staff would fit this in and how we could integrate it with the day job - communities of practice are fabulous but add another layer of 'task' potentially. If there was consideration and some co-design work with front line staff around how to take advantage of this, it could be really powerful



  8. A great idea, which I fully support. Having experienced the improvement in safety culture and staff morale following Human Factors training, I can see the potential of pooling our community's experiences and resources.

    It was that experience that piqued interest in Time Banking which could be a means of strengthening this community of practice:

  9. Guest

    Stuart Hamilton 4 years, 2 months ago


    Happy to be involved even if only to enlighten myself and help to dispel some of the HFE myths that are around. I see lots of interest but limited direction, it's all out there if people (me included) know where to look.

  10. Guest

    Not a Q member (yet) but would love to see this develop. We have started a HF CoP in the North East with support of the AHSN but its just getting started and it would be great to bring together the expertise of everyone around the country. I think there is scope to bring together expertise from all areas - not just Q members. There is a lot of knowledge in small pockets across organisations but we need to join forces to really have an impact and to improve peoples understanding of HFE beyond CRM or non technical skills.

    1. Thank you Wendy for your comments. It is great that you have started to develop a COP for HFE in the North East and would appreciate your input into helping its design.

      This is definitely not restricted to Q members - I had to start somewhere and the CoP will endeavour to provide opportunities for everyone who want to participate and share knowledge whether a Q Community or non-Q Community member. This is about inclusivity and not exclusivity.

  11. Guest

    Mark Hellaby 4 years, 2 months ago

    Great idea to get a critical mass of individuals together - my only worry is by limiting it in effect to individuals from the Q community you are very much limiting, sharing and collaborating with existing individuals around the country who are working in this area shouldn’t the COP be open to all ???

    1. I note that SCOTLAND is not on the list of areas covered. I know there is a lot of work going on in Scotland, and more yet to come. A CoP could benefit from the spread of insights and experience in different systems, especially regarding education, engagement of medical schools and colleges, unions and other shared stakeholders.

      The idea of a CoP is excellent in principle, but for the purposes of the QNetwork application and development of the project does it need a little more detail? What would be the short-term goals? What specific areas of practice, etc would be addressed- under-grad, post-grad and work-place-based education? Engagement with particular areas, eg procurement, medical (laboratory) sciences, board-level and leadership, colleges, political...

      I have never been involved with such a proposal before, so correct me if I’m wrong, but I fear in its current guise it may be too ‘woolly’ and potentially seem as unrealistic or ineffective.

    2. Hi Mark

      This is about everyone who wants to participate in the Community of Practice and is definitely not restricted to Q Community members.

      Please contact me via email if you want to be involved to develop the final proposal



    3. Hi Mark - really good point. Luckily, Q's group space is open to everyone, both Qs and everyone else. So it could be the good starting point that Alastair talks about.

  12. Hi Alastair, I would definitely be up for this.  My initial thoughts are simply to include an introduction of the concept of Human Factors into primary care by educational events which were strategically placed to target a large number of GPs and primary care staff in various localities.  Once this concept is better embedded, it may then be possible to facilitate healthcare workers to identify areas that could work better with redesign.  I agree that it would be good to involve the CHFG but not sure how much resource they have?

    1. PS I am a CHFG Trustee so happy to answer any Q's - we will tweet the link to this too

    2. Hi Anne - your right that we don't have a lot of resources at CHFG but we have developed an online forum  space that could be used to host discussions to support and contribute to this proposal from Alastair - this way we can engage more people as our members come from many parts of health and social care and beyond.

    3. Hi Anne

      Certainly spread of HFE into primary care is important and currently in process of developing a introductory course for primary care with my colleague Jane Higgs, an ergonomist working in the team at the West Midlands Patient Safety Collaborative.

      The CoP should bring together people who are developing or have developed such programmes to raise HFE awareness in this sector and also support design interventions as well. Certainly primary care has been an area of HFE activity in Scotland lead by Paul Bowie from Health Education Scotland and colleagues,

  13. Hi Alastair and Dominic - this is great to see. A Community of Practice approach could really help with the important work of developing and spreading HFE practice.

    As you mention, everyone (Q members and others) can join the current Human Factors Q special interest group, to help build a core for this community of practice:

    And.... look out for an announcement from Q about future support for Communities of Practice, which should really help with giving you all the expertise you need.



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