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Human Factors in the Design of Point of Care Technology for the Operating Room

February 20th, 2024

Designing point-of-care technology for the operating room (OR) involves careful consideration of human factors to ensure its seamless integration into perioperative workflows. Human factors encompass various elements such as user interface design, ergonomics, and overall usability. Let's explore the importance of human factors in the design of two specific technologies: device mounting systems and medication and supply storage carts.

1. Device Mounting Systems
  • Ergonomics: The design of device mounting systems should prioritize ergonomic considerations to enhance user comfort and reduce the risk of fatigue or musculoskeletal strain among healthcare professionals.  Mounting these devices to anesthesia carts or other equipment used during a case is an easy way of achieving ergonomics and reducing the amount of technology that is in the room.
  • Visibility and Accessibility: Placement of monitors and devices on mounting systems should optimize visibility and accessibility for surgeons and other staff, allowing them to focus on the case at hand without unnecessary distractions.
  • Adjustability: A flexible mounting system that can be easily adjusted to accommodate different users and procedures ensures adaptability in the dynamic OR environment.
2. Medication and Supply Carts
  • Drawer Access: Ensuring the efficient organization of medications and supplies within procedure carts is essential for swift and straightforward access during surgical procedures. A streamlined workflow is facilitated through logical placement of items and labeling of drawers. The configuration of drawers in procedure carts is of utmost importance. Implementing single-level drawer locking, coupled with user-specific controlled access, restricts access to medications and supplies only to the surgical team members requiring them. Each drawer should be stocked at an individual par level, and offer tamper-evident seals. Additionally, the inclusion of removable antimicrobial polymer inserts, dividers, and easily attachable pulls enables the surgical team to promptly identify whether the cart has been utilized and needs restocking.

  •  User-Friendly Interfaces: Interfaces on the storage carts should be intuitive and easy to use. This is especially important in high-pressure situations where quick access to specific medications or supplies is vital.
  • Mobility and Maneuverability: Given the confined space in the operating room (OR), it is crucial to design storage carts that prioritize easy mobility and maneuverability. Seamless and stable movement is imperative for effective navigation within the surgical environment. An OR procedure cart should feature a resilient yet lightweight, modern design capable of withstanding the demands of the environment. Constructed with antimicrobial materials, the cart should be equipped with swivel casters that provide minimal rolling resistance on all surfaces.
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3. Integration with Workflow

Both device mounting systems and storage carts should seamlessly integrate with existing perioperative workflows. This involves understanding the workflow processes and designing technologies that complement rather than disrupt these processes. Once in place, adequate training for healthcare professionals on the use of new technologies ensures a smooth transition and minimizes the risk of errors due to unfamiliarity.  Once the surgical team is confident of the workflow and training has been successfully completed, it is important to continuously seek feedback for identifying areas of improvement and ways to make the technology part of the care team, not a piece of equipment that is in the way. The optimization process should be iterative, allowing for modifications and enhancements based on real-world usage and feedback. This ensures that the technology evolves to meet the evolving needs of the OR environment.


In conclusion, the human factors in the design of point-of-care technology for the OR play a pivotal role in enhancing usability, safety, and overall effectiveness. A user-centered approach, considering the unique challenges and demands of the perioperative setting, is essential for the successful implementation of these technologies.