Knowledge Management in Healthcare

Knowledge Management in Healthcare

Christo El Morr, Julien Subercaze
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-670-4.ch023
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While knowledge management (KM) is becoming an established discipline with many applications and techniques, its adoption in health care has been challenging. Though, the health care sector relies heavily on knowledge and evidence based medicine is expected to be implemented in daily health care activities; besides, delivery of care replies on cooperation of several partners that need to exchange their knowledge in order to provide quality of care. In public health decision is mainly based on data and a shift is needed towards evidence based decision making. It is obvious that health care can profit from many advantages that KM can provide. Nevertheless, several challenges are ahead, some are proper to KM and other particular to the health care field. This chapter will overview KM, its methods and techniques, and provide and insight into health care current challenges and needs, discuss applications of KM in health care and provide some future perspectives for KM in health care.
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In service base companies, knowledge is a central intangible asset; knowledge management deals with the creation, use, reuse, dissemination of Knowledge. Knowledge Management (KM) became a discipline during the 80’s, and the growing role of information technologies enabled the development of efficient KM tools using databases and collaborative software.

As an interdisciplinary discipline, KM regroups concepts from Information Technology Management, Philosophy, Cognitive Sciences, and Organization Studies. The result is the existence of several schools and approaches in the practice of KM.

Health care delivery relies heavily on knowledge and evidence based medicine; besides, delivery of care replies on cooperation of several partners that need to exchange their knowledge in order to provide quality of care. This is particularly true in clinical setup, but also in public health where the decision making is mainly based on data and evidence generated by knowledge. In health care, KM is being developed mainly in the domain of electronic health record management and health organization management; in this context, previous researches in the business domain have been adapted and applied to the Healthcare Knowledge Management. But Health care KM raises different challenges and issues due to the own nature its Knowledge.

This chapter is organized in two parts; in the first part we will overview the knowledge management domain, beginning with several definitions of KM and a brief history. We will also discuss the different models and frameworks used in KM, introduce different techniques their advantages and drawbacks; and then discuss KM hardware requirements. In the second part we will look into health care knowledge management providing an overview of its applications, the advantages they provide and the challenges they face; then we will end with a discussion of health care knowledge management perspectives.

Key Terms in this Chapter

E-Health: E-health is a term that encompasses diverse applications in medicine and health including Picture Archiving and Communication Systems, Electronic Health Records, Telemedicine, etc. E-health involves the use of a technology to enable health care delivery using electronic means.

Evidence Based Medicine: Evidence based medicine aims to apply knowledge/evidence generated by research following the scientific method to medical practice.

Rules Engine: A system that support rule based inferences. A set of rules is used to infer knowledge based on prior knowledge.

Decision Support Systems (DSS): Computer based systems that support decision making processes based on a knowledge base. Different types of DSS exist, such as: model-driven, communication-driven, data-driven, etc.

Knowledge Management: The management (strategies, processes) used to capture, value, identify, and enhance the intellectual assets of an organization.

Public Health: Public health is a discipline that is concerned with the health of the population in a country. Traditionally, it uses data analysis tools in order to assess population health, track threats to it (e.g. epidemics), and design measures to protect it. Disease prevention, smoking cessation programs, flu management, are all part of public health strategies.

Knowledge Transfer: Knowledge Transfer is a field of research concerned with finding practical ways to transfer knowledge between the knowledge producers and knowledge consumers/users; for example, transferring knowledge generated in academia to society (e.g. decision makers, companies, non-governmental organizations).

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