Healthcare work is, to a considerable extent, cognitive. Subsequently, the analysis and the design of supporting technology must be sensitive to the cognitive and adaptive demands of the work and to the cognitive strategies employed by healthcare practitioners. Despite the vital role that cognition plays in healthcare work, current technocentric design approaches for healthcare technology do not account for it, failing to observe it during analysis and failing to develop support for it during design.
By review and analysis of case studies, we show that healthcare systems developed without input from cognitive analysis and cognitive design fail to take account of important healthcare work processes and workflows. In contrast, systems developed with a cognitively-focused design strategy demonstrate how it is possible to introduce technology that supports and enhances the work strategies of those engaged in patient care.
Significant problems emerge when technological support systems are developed without any serious and comprehensive attempt to understand the cognitive capabilities and skills deployed by those involved in patient care. In contrast, significant benefits accrue from taking full account of those cognitive capabilities and skills. Subsequently, the design and development of supporting technology must be sensitive to the cognitive demands of the work and the cognitive strategies employed by healthcare practitioners.