Skip to main content
  1. Home
  2. Blog
  3. Human Factors – the Fundamentals of Human Capabilities

Human Factors – the Fundamentals of Human Capabilities

Published on
18 June 2019
Written by

Sir David Attenborough recently remarked at a UN meeting that no one ever did anything for the environment before first caring about it. This care and concern required a certain level of understanding, spawned from an initial interest in the natural world. I think this point is hugely important in any context – if we want to change the way things are done in any walk of life, we need to first create a level of interest and understanding.

I think it is pretty well agreed at a national governance and regulatory level in the UK that a number of things are fundamental to safe and effective healthcare, including (but not limited to):

  • Addressing systemic factors that contribute to variations in front line performance as opposed to focusing on individuals’ failings: ie. taking a Human Factors approach to the design of workspace, equipment, technology, work processes and how those interface.

  • Developing High Performing Teams – groups that are capable of getting the best from one another under extreme pressure in demanding situations.

  • Creating an open, just and learning culture where incidents/near misses/safety concerns, as well as outstanding practice and simple appreciation are regularly reporting, acted up, and learning shared widely and effectively.

The start point to all of this is understanding the fundamentals of human capabilities and limitations – how we process the world around us and take in information, how we make decisions, the conflict being our logic and emotion and how our underlying ‘lens’ on the world shapes our reality. This understanding gives us the starting point for all of the above:

  • Enabling us to better explore Systems Thinking and Human Factors/Ergonomics – designing systems that make best use of human capabilities and mitigate for limitations

  • Teams that work much more effectively by developing strategies that compensate for human limitations and get the best from each individual

  • Ensuring that the outdated notion of ‘human error’ is a starting point for an investigation, not an end point.

Clearly an introductory course is just that, the starting point to a journey – our Introduction to Human Factors is an essential starting point for all professionals involved in healthcare delivery.