Rolf Wipfli

“Usability in the Hospital”


The hospital is one of the places where the digital revolution had not yet had its full impact. Physicians and nurses still appreciate paper-based documentation for its straightforward use. Since some years, there has been an effort to computerize the patient records. The Swiss Confederation pursues a strategy that promotes electronic patient records that can be accessed by physicians and patients by 2015.

In this context, research is required. The impact of the computerization on physicians’ and nurses’ work processes must be studied. A major concern is the usability of the medical applications that can impair the clinical work process. The usability of medical applications can have an impact on patient safety but is not always evaluated in usability tests. Often, technical feasibility and standardization is in the centre of development. However, the inclusion of human factors is gaining importance.

The talk gives an insight into the usability at the hospital from a personal point of view. Experiences with user-centred design are shared. Finally, we present three studies that have been conducted on the usability of innovative applications.


Rolf Wipfli holds a PhD in Psychology and works at the Geneva University Hospitals. He conducts research in the division of medical information sciences where he studies usability and safety of medical software and devices.

Research includes the impact of medical alerts in clinical information systems on physicians, the use of expert systems by epidemiologists, and the usability of medical devices for elderly people. Rolf leads a laboratory for usability studies for the clinical context at the Geneva University Hospitals.

In the past, Rolf worked as a consultant for usability agencies and as a system engineer for IT companies.