eHealthRisk: The Human Factor

The eHealthRisk blog is a forum for examining privacy, security, safety, project and business risks associated with the application of information and telecommunications technologies to health care.

The Human Factor

Without question the best book I've read about human factors engineering and the issues that arise when we put human beings and technology together is The Human Factor: Revolutionizing the Way We Live With Technology by Kim Vicente. Vicente has written a very readable and fascinating book drawing on real life experiences from the aviation, nuclear, health care and other high risk industries. The book is organized around the "Human-Tech Ladder" which describes a hierarchy of relationships that explains why things sometimes go wrong when humans and technology mix. The ladder looks at the following factors:

Physical - Size, shape, location weight, colour, material
Psychological - Information content/structure, cause/effect relations
Team - Authority, communications patterns, responsibilities
Organizational - Corporate culture, reward structures, staffing levels
Political - Policy agenda, budget allocations, laws, regulations