The Academy’s Center for Cognitive Studies in Medicine and Public Health is a multidisciplinary research center devoted to empirically based studies to understand the decision-making behaviors of healthcare providers and their interactions with patients. These studies use methods of data collection and analysis that are grounded in social, cognitive, and information science. When physicians and patients interact, the nature of those interactions may contribute to errors that influence outcomes, education recommendations, and policies. The role of health information technology is to mitigate these errors, and to develop informed educational and training programs for patient safety, plays an important part in this research.


Cognitive Complexity and Error in Critical Care

In this multi-year, multi-site project, the Academy’s research team brings together new perspectives from cognitive informatics, complexity science and clinical practice to examine medical errors. The project combines methodological advances with the challenge of addressing the pressing social problem of managing and mitigating medical errors in complex health care environments. These studies provide novel insights into how mistakes are made and provide new ways to mitigate these errors in environments where there are too many variables to consider such as the modern healthcare system. This project is funded by the James S. McDonnell Foundation.

Effects of Electronic Health Record on Team Performance

Electronic Health Records (EHR) are rapidly being adopted in hospitals and physician practices. While there is little consensus on the success of such implementation, recent research has highlighted several unintended consequences of its use. Our study is focused on characterizing the nature and source of these unintended consequences on teamwork in the emergency room and mitigating errors, while improving workflow and performance. This study is funded by the James S. McDonnell Foundation.

Effects of Noise on Cognitive Function

There is sufficient evidence to show that multitasking and interruptions compromise performance. In the urban environment, including the hospitals, excessive noise is a form of interruption and has been shown to exhibit a detrimental effect on cognitive function and communication, generating errors. Our team, in collaboration with Mount Sinai Hospital and Columbia University, is collecting preliminary data to assess noise levels, using sound measurement and simulation technology, in the patient care environment during care team transitions. This study is funded by the National Library of Medicine.

  • “Cognitive Informatics for Biomedicine: Human Computer Interaction in Healthcare” (Springer book, 2015)
  • “Cognitive Informatics in Health and Biomedicine: Case Studies on Critical Care, Complexity and Errors” (Springer book, 2014)
  • “Cognitive and Learning Sciences in Biomedical and Health Instructional Design: A Review with Lessons for Biomedical Informatics Education”(Journal of Biomedical Informatics, 2009)
  • “Lay Public’s Knowledge and Decisions In Response to Symptoms of Acute Myocardial Infarction” (Advances in Health Sciences Education, 2009)
  • “Diagnostic Reasoning and Decision Making in the Context of Health Information Technology” (Reviews of Human Factors and Ergonomics, 2013)