Human Factors Engineering (HFE): Level Set for a System Approach to Successful Surface Disinfection
Barriers to successful cleaning and disinfection include not only the products used but also the effective implementation of practice due to complex protocols in the healthcare setting. Trying to keep tabs on healthcare workers’ practices within a perpetually contaminated environment can be a daunting task. Compliance with disinfection interventions is driven by more than just end-user education, monitoring, feedback, and post-practice validation; variation in practice remains a barrier to a successful system1.
So, what exactly is human factors engineering (HFE)? The definition can vary a bit as it has applications across assorted disciplines. The goal is to engineer “…a product, process or system to work more efficiently with humans…” to “…reduce human error, increase productivity and enhance safety and comfort…”2. Rock, et al., apply three core attributes of HFE to cleaning a hospital room: using a system approach, being design-driven and focusing on system performance and human well-being1. The system approaches embedded within HFE reference multiple stakeholders as responsible for cleaning and disinfection processess1. Ultimately, products approved by the end-user as convenient and safe certainly aid in the appropriate use and compliance1.
HFE in Environmental Cleaning
So, what would alignment with HFE look like in environmental cleaning? As an example, PDI surface disinfection products support the HFE approach in many ways. The pre-saturated wipes are easy to use (clean and disinfect with one product), wall mounts and hygiene stands support compliance efforts, and color-coded canister lids with visibly pronounced label icons depicting contact times/proper usage facilitate EVS directions for use. Recently, a new lid design was launched to meet the needs of users, addressing HFE concerns of difficulties in threading and pulling the correct number of wipes from the canister.
The consideration of a continuously active disinfectant may be beneficial within the HFE framework. Healthcare surfaces are frequently re-contaminated, and the addition of a CAD can prevent ESKAPE (Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacter spp.) microorganisms from re-contaminating surfaces and equipment for 24 hours and/or 96 touches. CAD technology can be included during the facility risk assessment when considering the thoroughness of the current cleaning and disinfection program, especially during times of resource constraints.
How the Tru-D Robot Supports a Layered Approach
When considering a layered approach with enhanced disinfection, the Tru-D device provides a streamlined approach to supplemental disinfection requiring only one placement within a room, which allows operators time to perform other tasks during the disinfection process3. The Tru-D portal provides efficiency and performance calculations within a cloud-based web portal for convenient tracking and reporting. These features reduce the chance of human error, promote worker productivity and highlight the mutual benefits of combining technology with operator ease of use.
Human factors engineering is a critical construct to ensure the success of disinfection and environmental services programs. At the end of the day, the end-users need to have products and practices that are tailored to driving compliance around the tasks they perform and the microorganism reduction goals they impact. Next time, we will address another important caveat of achieving these shared goals—the importance of the partnership and collaboration between a dynamic duo in healthcare: IP and EVS. When these departments work in tandem, disinfection initiatives are often a top priority within the facility, leading to a clean healthcare environment.
- Rock, Clare, et al. “Using a human factors engineering approach to improve patient room cleaning and disinfection.” Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology12 (2016): 1502-1506.
- https://www.hfes.org/About-HFES/What-is-Human-Factors-and-Ergonomics. Accessed January 28, 2022.
- https://tru-d.com/why-tru-d/. Accessed January 31, 2022.