Physiological monitors evaluation for procurement

Healthcare Human Factors


Physiological patient monitors are a ubiquitous medical device within hospitals. They are critical for providing real-time monitoring of patients’ vital signs including heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, and temperature. When three major hospitals in Toronto were looking to purchase new monitors, they asked Healthcare Human Factors to evaluate competitive products based on usability, safety, and the ability to meet clinical requirements.

Healthcare Human Factors conducted head to head usability evaluations of four physiological monitors under consideration for purchase. The labs and testing scenarios were set up to simulate cardiac units, emergency departments, neonatal intensive care units, and intensive care units. Over thirty clinicians from the three hospitals, including nurses, physicians, and respiratory therapists, were asked to use the monitors in realistic scenarios. They performed typical measurements on simulated patients and managed alarm situations. The team discovered usability issues with the monitors; some had safety implications. The team also captured task completion rates, and collected subjective responses on ease-of-use, ease-of-learning, and monitor preferences.

Based on findings of the research and feedback from the clinicians, the team recommended a monitor that was safe, usable and best suited the needs of clinicians.