Improving Patient Safety in the Patient Journey: Contributions from Human Factors Engineering

  • Pascale CarayonEmail author
  • Abigail R. Wooldridge
Part of the Women in Engineering and Science book series (WES)


Patient safety remains a significant concern even in light of some improvements, such as reduction of healthcare-associated complications for hospitalized patients. We argue that renewed attention for systems approaches is necessary in order to more effectively tackle complex patient safety problems. We propose the concept of patient journey as a new perspective for patient safety. The spatio-temporal interactions and care transitions are the essence of the patient journey. The patient journey perspective emphasizes patients’ interactions with multiple care settings over time.

We review different process modeling approaches aimed at describing the patient journey. This includes methods based on the SEIPS (Systems Engineering Initiative for Patient Safety) model of work system and patient safety. Examples described in this chapter include modeling of the medication management process and modeling of care coordination for elderly patients with chronic conditions. The examples show how human factors and systems engineering can contribute to analyzing processes in the patient journey and, therefore, provide opportunities for addressing patient safety in a systematic manner.



This research was supported by the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program, through the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), Grant UL1TR000427. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Industrial and Systems EngineeringUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Center for Quality and Productivity ImprovementUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Industrial and Enterprise Systems EngineeringUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

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