- Published: October 31, 2021
- Updated: October 31, 2021
- University / College: Queen's University Belfast
- Language: English
- Downloads: 44
Knowledge management in the healthcare domain may be regarded as an integration of formal techniques and methods in order to ease the utilization, dissemination, preservation, development, identification, acquisition and creation of the diverse aspects of the knowledge assets of the healthcare organization (Bordoloi & Islam, 2012). Delivery of excellent healthcare services requires optimal knowledge management and thereby having an established knowledge management process aids to enhance the process performance. Past studies analyzing the importance of knowledge management in healthcare depict that this process is far more complicated in the healthcare domain. This is mainly as a result of diverse perspectiveson knowledge management with reference to objective facts, social norms and personal values. Such perspectives are in constant conflict with the creation, normalization and application of knowledge especially in the healthcare sector. According to Nicolini et al. (2008), there has been inherent focus mainly on three basic knowledge management themes in the healthcare sector. Applying knowledge management in the healthcare sector needs to find out certain mechanisms suiting a particular healthcare establishment. This paper will discuss the strategies and the application framework of knowledge management in healthcare units with special emphasis on hospitals.
In healthcare enterprises, knowledge management has both challenging as well as intriguing issues. Such issues come from the distributed and heterogeneous healthcare domain. Also, the security and ethical concerns further make it difficult to access information. Another distinguishing feature of knowledge management in healthcare uses is that the sharing of information is strictly based on medical rules and regulations. The first challenge of having a distributed and heterogeneous industry may be considerably mitigated by means of conservative integration approaches in knowledge management. However resolving the second issue of conflict in accessing medical data due to medical guidelines may need challenging reconciliation tools (Nilakanta et al. 2009).
Knowledge management strategies in healthcare
Several factors influence the application of knowledge management in healthcare. Attitudes, as well as technical aspects, greatly impact knowledge management applications. One of the greatest determinants for successful development and implementation of knowledge management in healthcare is motivating employees to share data. Broadly speaking; knowledge management aspects may be further classified to include the people aspect and the approach to manage communication and information. Knowledge management strategies may be broadly divided into codification and personalisation approaches. The codification strategy entails codifying, storing and reusing knowledge. The personalisation approach entails in establishing successful dialogue between individuals.
Most healthcare facilities emphasize on following the codification strategy for successfully managing knowledge. This is mainly because the fundamental medical information remains the same and hence codifying clinical guidelines helps in facilitating effective dissemination of information. The codification strategy to managing knowledge helps in saving on time and cost and thereby enhances the effectiveness in retrieving information.
However, this strategy may have functional as well as physical challenges. The accessibility to a contact person of a particular resource of knowledge as well as the retrieval distance thereby impacting the time to retrieve information. On the other hand, obstacles in functions may be posed by exhaustive knowledge resource, indexing and organizing knowledge.
Application of knowledge management in healthcare
The healthcare domain entails learning from industry experiences by applying knowledge management systems and practices to enhance the operational and clinical performance in hospitals. The context of healthcare entails five major components of knowledge management applications.
Communities of practice – the practice of knowledge management takes care of the social context of documenting experiences of others’ and garnering knowledge by learning from others’. Hence, the concept of knowledge management in the healthcare sector should not only encompass a central collection of documents, information and data but also promote collaboration of people having a common interest or purpose in the discussion of sharing, communicating and applying knowledge.
The hospital system entails having communities sharing similar functions. Hence, the knowledge management objective should be to devise codes by defining memberships, main functions and the communication styles preferred. The codes devised should be in sync with the organizational goals and the team goals. The completion of community activation system can lead to the formation of several other communities and finally defining the manner to conduct business activities, address and resolve problems and the sharing of knowledge.
Capability and knowledge transfer – The main objective of knowledge transfer should be to promote innovation, improved care of patients and facilitation of the operations process. The notion of capability or skills transfer is closely related to the transfer of knowledge. Hospitals should have a manner to recognize best procedures to orient individuals and even adjust to new environments. This is closely related to e-learning, leadership development, mechanisms to facilitate educational programming, human resource processes involving recruitment, training, motivation and developing the required skills to support knowledge management. Especially in hospitals the critical information may be collected with reference to patient data, management data containing details about results and processes in the firm and expert knowledge needed for optimum management of patients (Myllarniemi et al. 2012).
One of the most common methods to track information related to patients in hospitals is conducted by means of the Electronic Medical Record (EMR). This is a digital repository of information of patients that is shared in the hospital. Most Electronic Medical Record systems have certain applications like computerised records of patients, capabilities to process transactions, integration with diverse processes and systems, applications supporting decision making and clinical repository of information (Gastaldi et al. 2012).
Tracking performance outcomes – Hospitals should have a rigorous tracking process so as to monitor the organizational activity and accordingly monitor the performance of the organization. Most hospitals have a process to track three measures that is a direct outcome of implementing knowledge management program. These measures are:
– Results that reflect achievement of operational, clinical or financial performance
– Process tools tracking the activities facilitating to garner outcomes, like tracking the participants in particular practice communities, quality and quantity of practices involving knowledge sharing and the organizational involvement in sharing knowledge.
– Measures of satisfaction which successfully tracks enhancements in the attitudes of personnel, the engagement of physicians and medical practitioners and the satisfaction attained by the customers with the care process.
The component tracking the outcomes of performance should implement diverse metrics instruments, like transaction analysis of information, surveys, and the interpretation of results garnered from the information.
Infrastructure support and technology – One of the best facilitators of knowledge management is web based technology. This technology helps in simplifying the collaborative procedures by making available knowledge instantly on an international arena. Hence this technology provides the constitution for content publishing by classifying them to particular methods of technology. Some of the technology tools adapted in a hospital setting so as to facilitate knowledge management are as follows:
– Knowledge base – these include methods to manage content like Documentum
– Expertise access – such tools are incorporate into the email
– eLearning spaces – these may be diverse tools facilitating interactive collaboration like learning management processes such as HealthStream and Blackboard.
– Synchronous interactions – these facilitate online meetings through the Web and tools like NetMeeting or WebEx are most commonly used.
– Discussion teams may range from simple listservs and technology products include Prospero and WebCrossing.
– Website communities help people to connect online as well as provide a range of facilities in the form of tools and documents like Communispace.
– Project spaces which are mostly connected with Outlook email and facilitates mechanisms for project management and shared folders.
– The desktop mechanisms for knowledge workers come in the form of web portals that are tailor-made to meet specific requirements of the knowledge workers like Plumtree.
Knowledge management in healthcare industry is extremely beneficial as it leads to enhanced organizational performance. This is mainly because effective application of knowledge management tools helps organizations to benefit from a number of technologies as well as the formation of community groups, management of content, the transfer of skills and capabilities and tracking organizational performance and progress. Knowledge management strategies including codification and personalization should be implemented by hospitals. However, the hospitals should consider the needs and requirements of the patients prior to devising the most suited strategy that may help in garnering optimum outcomes.
Knowledge management is highly relevant in the healthcare framework. This is mainly because a hospital setting entails several sophisticated medical processes and systems. Effectively implementing knowledge management helps in documenting and using the information for optimal patient management. Also, it is possible to track previous experiences and learn from failures.
The importance of knowledge management in the healthcare industry is primarily because very less research has been conducted on knowledge management in the healthcare domain. Moreover, effective implementation of knowledge management in the healthcare industry is more complicated as compared with other domains. Knowledge management is highly relevant in healthcare, because it describes mechanisms to collect and store relevant data for future applications and process optimization. The knowledge management strategies listed have helped to understand the effective functioning of hospitals. Finally knowledge management is aimed to bring about sustainable and long term commitment in order to bring about an innovative culture in the healthcare domain. Implementing knowledge management in hospitals will help them to become highly proactive, collaborative and transparent so as to deliver accountable resources, minimized errors and cost effective processes and systems.
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Gastaldi, L., Lettieri, E., Corso, M. & Masella, C. (2012). Performance improvement in hospitals: leveraging on knowledge asset dynamics through the introduction of an electronic medical record. Measuring Business Excellence, 16(4), 14 – 30.
Myllarniemi, J., Laihonen, H., Karppinen, H. & Seppanen, K. (2012). Knowledge management practices in healthcare services. Measuring Business Excellence, 16(4), 54 – 65.
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