This commentary highlights the usefulness of using Human Factors and Ergonomics (HFE) to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Human Factors and Ergonomics (HFE) has been shown to effectively design, adapt, and reconfigure health care work systems to support individual and team performance in previous high-risk, high-stake situations (e.g., Ebola outbreak). A case example from a pediatric ambulatory care team demonstrates its effectiveness in the COVID-19 pandemic. Cognitive task analysis is particularly useful because health care work is cognitively intense and patient and health care worker safety relies heavily on how well information is disseminated. Failure in team cognition (e.g., miscommunication, lack of communication) is a major contributor to almost all inadequate emergency/disaster responses. Focusing on evidence-based human cognition and behavior approaches are essential to pandemic management, whereas simply communicating with health care providers about diligence or sending mixed messages is ineffective and hazardous.