The challenge of human factors within surgical environments

You are here: Home » The challenge of human factors within surgical environments

Simon Moss, Sagentia

Robotics is increasingly changing the way we interact with our devices and will increasingly do so in the future. One key area where robotics has been making an impact is within surgery.
Today it is estimated that today 90% of prostate removals are carried out robotically.This involves using robotic arms controlled by a surgeon who sits remotely behind a video screen, distant from the patient while operating the machines robotic arms. The role of human factors is extremely important for these devices, not least because the surgeon is separated from the patient, potentially geographically.
The advantages are that robots don’t get tired, that they are more precise and are less prone to human error. But the user challenges are huge. Amongst the challenges are safety and precision, and physical and visual limitations on the surgeon. Surgeons’ visual, tactile and motor skills are altered and voice control / haptic control are being used to replicate surgical interactions.

Traditionally user interfaces and control systems for critical applications have been located in close proximity to their intended uses. Robotic systems promote the idea of remote operation but this presents specific usability challenges in the surgical space.

HF is perhaps the most important discipline and is ideally placed to understand and document user requirements within these usage scenarios and address use error risks.


The case study will illustrate why human factors is essential to safe and effective product design. The challenges and the opportunities will be discussed.


The value is an opportunity to understand how human factors is integrated into product development at one of the UK’s most successful technology consultancies. The case study is a surgical robotic device that Sagentia have developed.


This is a current topic with increasing relevance within human factors and will appeal to a broad spectrum of practitioners in the HF field.

What is the purpose of your workshop?

We will demonstrate how surgical robotics benefits from human factors.

What key skills, tools or knowledge do you want your participants to take away?

We hope that our audience will have gained insight and awareness into the practical application of human factors into a real life example of a surgical device.

We also intend to convey the subtleties of human factors within such complex medical devices to build an appreciation of the product development process and regulatory issues within complex medical device development.

What activities will you use to engage your participants and help them learn?

We will bring two working robotic demonstrators and handouts.

Date & place

19 - 21 April 2016
Staverton Park, Daventry, Northamptonshire

Organised by

Join delegates from:

Institute of Occupational Medicine
Royal Air Force
Health and Safety Executive
Office of Rail and Road
Rail Safety and Standards Board
Greenstreet Berman
The Keil Centre
DCA Design
and many more