Healthcare Knowledge Management

Healthcare Knowledge Management

Kostas Metaxiotis
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-050-9.ch017
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The healthcare environment is changing rapidly, and effective management of the knowledge base in this area is an integral part of delivering highquality patient care. People all over the world rely on a huge array of organizations for the provision of healthcare, from public-sector monoliths and governmental agencies to privately funded organizations, and consulting and advisory groups. It is a massive industry in which every organization faces a unique combination of operational hurdles. However, what every healthcare system has in common is the high price of failure. Faced with the prospect of failing to prevent suffering and death, the importance of continuously improving efficiency and effectiveness is high on the agenda for the majority of healthcare organizations (Brailer, 1999). Taking also into consideration that the amount of biological and medical information is growing at an exponential rate, it is not consequently surprising that knowledge management (KM) is attracting so much attention from the industry as a whole. In a competitive environment like the healthcare industry, trying to balance customer expectations and cost requires an ongoing innovation and technological evolution. With the shift of the healthcare industry from a central network to a global network, the challenge is how to effectively manage the sources of information and knowledge in order to innovate and gain competitive advantage. Healthcare enterprises are knowledge-intensive organizations which process massive amounts of data, such as electronic medical records, clinical trial data, hospitals records, administrative reports, and generate knowledge. However, the detailed content of this knowledge repository is to some extent “hidden” to its users, because it is regularly localized or even personal and difficult to share, while the healthcare data are rarely transformed into a strategic decisionsupport resource (Heathfield & Louw, 1999). KM concepts and tools can provide great support to exploit the huge knowledge and information resources and assist today’s healthcare organizations to strengthen healthcare service effectiveness and improve the society they serve.

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