Human Factors Engineering (HFE)

Human Factors Engineering Goals

To better understand the impact of human factors in the dialysis setting by undertaking facility assessments in areas across the country to identify facilitators and barriers to increased patient and staff safety, including infection prevention and control.

Project Description

In 2018, ASN entered a contract with CDC to begin to assess Human Factors in the dialysis setting.  Human Factors Engineering is a discipline concerned with the design of tools, machines, and systems that consider human capabilities, limitations, and characteristics to improve safety and allow for effective human use. 

In the first year, ASN physician volunteers and staff, CDC representatives, and Human Factors engineers from the Carilion School of Medicine, Virginia Tech visited ten outpatient dialysis facilities across the country.  Employing human factors approaches, the teams assessed areas of care which may lead to potential infection control issues.  This work continued with four additional assessments which were conducted in the second year of the contract.

In 2020, ASN was asked to extend their work in this area to look at infection control and prevention in the home dialysis setting.  This work was interrupted by the pandemic and was able to continue in the Summer 2022.


  HFE Resource Highlights


Spreading human factors expertise in healthcare: untangling the knots in people and systems

Human factors (HF) is a term many involved in healthcare delivery are now familiar with, even though a decade ago most had never heard of the concept. The majority of clinicians and healthcare improvement specialists have learned of HF through a particular branch of practice that derived from aviation and arose from the need to address error, teamwork and communication issues. Frequently espoused by well meaning clinicians and aviators, rather than academically qualified Human factors professionals, it has led to misunderstandings about the range of approaches, knowledge, science and techniques that can be applied from the field of HF to address patient safety and quality of care problems.


Designing for People: An introduction to human factors engineering

Whether it is the car you drive or the app on your smartphone, technology has an increasingly powerful influence on you. When designed with people in mind, this influence can improve lives and productivity. This book provides a broad introduction on how to attend to the needs, capabilities, and preferences of people in the design process. We combine methods of design thinking and systems thinking to understand people’s needs and evaluate whether those needs are met.