This month we are very pleased to profile PhD candidate Selvana Awad. Selvana is also currently working at eHealth NSW as the Usability and Safety Lead on the Clinical Engagement and Patient Safety team.
Please tell us a little about yourself. I am a first year PhD student at the University of Sydney, completing my research with the Faculty of Medicine and Health under the primary supervision of A/Prof Melissa Baysari. I hold a Masters of Health Service Management from the University of Tasmania and a Bachelor of Pharmacy from the University of Sydney.
I am currently working at eHealth NSW as the Usability and Safety Lead on the Clinical Engagement and Patient Safety team. Prior to working at eHealth NSW, I worked at the Clinical Excellence Commission, leading statewide programs around venous thromboembolism (VTE) prevention and other medication safety initiatives, and provided quality improvement coaching to NSW hospital teams. My clinical background is in pharmacy, having worked in NSW hospitals before moving to the Clinical Excellence Commission.
My expertise and interests lie in digital health, clinical decision support, human factors, patient safety, quality improvement, and health service management.
Outside of work and study, I serve in my church’s youth ministry, and enjoy classical music concerts, travelling (when not restricted by COVID-19) and spending time with nature.
What is your research on? In my role at eHealth NSW, I work with project teams to ensure that digital solutions used for clinical care are fit for purpose, intuitive, and safe through the application of human centred design and human factors principles and methodologies.
The link between poor system usability and design, and adverse patient outcomes is recognised in the literature. Being a medication safety pharmacist, I have a particular interest in ensuring that electronic medication management (EMM) systems, now widely used in NSW hospitals, are designed and used safely. Thus, the aim of my research is to apply and evaluate the use of human factors and safety analysis methods as tools to support design decisions for these systems.
Although many human factors and safety analysis methods have been and continue to be applied to health information technology projects, further work is required to understand their applicability, utility, and optimal use by design teams to enhance design decisions over project life cycles and in turn, improve medication safety and system usability.
I am currently working on a systematic review to identify cases where human factors methods have been applied to aid with the design of EMM systems. Once methods have been identified, a series of studies will be undertaken involving the application and evaluation of appropriate human factors methods to EMM system design projects within the NSW Health context.
What are the real world consequences of your research? Because of my industry role, I can develop a program of research questions that are both theoretically interesting and directly relevant to current challenges encountered in Health IT.
A scan of the literature demonstrates that there is varied application and evaluation of human factors methods and principles across the health IT milieu. While many studies provide examples of the use of observation, interviews, design principles and other human factors methods to support the design of health IT products, gaps exists with respect to understanding how different design and implementation stages would benefit from the systematic integration of human factors methods by health IT designers and implementers. This research aims to address such gaps by defining a systematic and structured approach to human factors analysis and design for EMM projects in the NSW context, akin to human factors integration processes used in the transportation sector. A key output of this research, will be an evidence-based package to guide the application of human factors and safety analysis methods to EMM design decisions over project life cycles.
What does digital health mean to you? The widespread roll-out of electronic health records and prescribing systems (including state-wide systems deployed in NSW) has prompted a paradigm shift in the conversation about patient safety and reliable care. For me, digital health provides us with huge opportunities to improve clinical documentation and other care processes, harness data insights, improve patient safety outcomes, enhance access to care and support care integration across acute, secondary and tertiary care settings. Advancements in digital health have challenged us to reimagine care delivery, outside the limitations of traditional, paper-based systems and physical hospital walls. However, while digital technologies can improve care, they also may introduce other types of errors. For this reason, as we make further advancements in digital health, it will become increasingly important to enhance our knowledge of what constitutes best practice design and implementation.
A very big thank you to Selvana for taking the time to be our July feature! -JW