Technology and design

Healthcare depends on a wide range of technologies and products, the design of which has a great influence on patient safety.

Healthcare is dependent on technology, and how that technology is designed has huge implications for the safety of care. Technologies in healthcare can span from the high technology of e-prescribing, medical imaging and robotic surgery, to the low-technology of forms, checklists and medication labels.    Poor or clumsy design of these various technologies can be a source of safety problems, errors and incidents. 

Technology and design are central issues in patient safety but have only recently become a major focus of attention. Many of the incidents and errors that occur in healthcare can be attributed to poorly designed technologies and systems. 

There are a wide range of principles and ideas that support effective design for patient safety. Many of these are illustrated through very specific examples of effective design of technologies, such as medications packaging and the design of infusion technologies


Some of the most basic principles of effective design for safety (such as those in Design for Patient Safety) focus on ease of use, simplicity and transparency.

Technologies of all sorts should be both simple to use, comprehend, transparent and easily understandable in terms of its purpose operation.


In order to improve the design of technology in healthcare, there needs to be systematic feedback collected and analysed from healthcare staff, patients and other purchasers and users of technologies.

There also needs to be well defined standards for effective design, and clear processes through which design can be evaluated and improved.

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