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How is knowledge management used in healthcare?

Knowledge Management in Healthcare- A Prerequisite for Flawless Health Services

An overwhelming amount of data is generated every day in the healthcare sector.

Global healthcare data is expected to reach a whopping 2314 exabytes in 2020. That’s the equivalent of more than 2 trillion laptops worth of data. 

Clearly, healthcare is a data-intensive industry, given the constant research on advanced procedures, new treatments, and emerging technologies happening regularly. 

What if doctors had instant access to this wealth of information? It would empower them to make more accurate medical decisions and provide improved solutions.  

Embracing knowledge management software can make this possible. It facilitates quick access to critical healthcare data, reduces the risk of human errors, and takes patient care to a whole new level. 

Are you curious to see how it all works?  

This comprehensive blog draws light on knowledge management can be a game-changer for the healthcare industry. 

Let’s go. 

Benefits of Knowledge Management in Healthcare

Data forms the DNA of the healthcare ecosystem. Effective management of healthcare data leads to informed decision-making, better medical outcomes, and seamless communication among healthcare personnel.

Let’s take a closer look at the many benefits healthcare knowledge management can bring to the table. 

Powers Accurate Medical Decisions

The slightest of errors on the healthcare provider’s end can cost patients their lives. 

Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

One mistake can lead to a tragedy and a multi-million dollar lawsuit. 

That makes knowledge management for healthcare all the more critical. It provides 24×7 centralized access to patient-specific information and the latest medical research, assisting doctors in making informed decisions.

Doctors rarely have time amidst appointments to consult other doctors. Take this example. A doctor comes across a patient showing unique symptoms of a particular disease. Based on the limited experience and knowledge of the symptoms, the doctor provides a plan but is unsure of its effectiveness. 

What if the doctor has quick access to the latest medical research available on these new symptoms? Or, if the doctor can get to know the experiences of other doctors who might have valuable suggestions to deal with this situation? 

It will empower the doctor to make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe an effective treatment.

Promotes a Learning-Focused Environment

With the healthcare industry evolving rapidly, healthcare professionals can’t rely only on the knowledge gained in medical school. They need to keep themselves abreast of the latest medical procedures, technologies, and drug developments in order to provide top-notch services. 

That’s why various global healthcare organizations demand professionals to get education credits regularly – once or twice a year. 

As a healthcare organization, you can lend your support by creating a learning-focused environment. A knowledge management system can help you in this endeavor. It encourages your medical staff to share their learning and experiences on a centralized platform. This creates a supportive learning culture where everyone has access to updated industry information. 

This way, even if a key member of your medical staff leaves, the knowledge held by him or her, stays with your organization forever.  

Equips patients With Self-Help 

After registering with a hospital, patients expect to have effortless access to their medical records. They need to be updated on the current stage of their illness and the progress made so far. 

A healthcare knowledge management system ensures that patients don’t have to go from pillar to post to find the required information. They can refer to your patient portal to track their communication with doctors and monitor treatment progress.

Cleveland Clinic is an excellent example here. Its health management platform – MyChart, provides patients with access to their medical records, physician progress notes, medications, and preventive care information.

Equips patients With Self-Help
Image Source

Maintains Confidentiality 

Respecting confidentiality is an ethical obligation in the healthcare sector. 

With security breaches increasing rapidly, there is a high risk of identity theft and data-related fraud that can negatively impact patients’ lives. 

A powerful knowledge management healthcare system can prevent this from happening. It allows you to store data securely on a centralized cloud-based knowledge platform and exercise full control over its visibility.

A part of the knowledge platform can be kept for public view, while the section that holds confidential information can be made accessible only to trusted professionals. Data can also be password-protected. Even if some members of your medical staff have access rights, they will need to enter the password before viewing it. You will learn more about this in the next section. 

Delivers Stellar Post-Discharge Healthcare Services

One of the primary goals of healthcare organizations is to build trust and lasting relationships with patients. This can be achieved by going the extra mile and delivering stellar services even after patients are discharged. 

Knowledge management provides enormous opportunities to improve post-patient care journeys. 

For example, after patients undergo treatment for major diseases and are discharged, they can look up your self-help healthcare portal to find nuggets of advice such as:  

  • The diet that they should follow 
  • The exercises they should be doing to stay healthy 
  • The kind of lifestyle they should adopt to keep the disease at bay 
  • Risks associated with the medication they are taking and tips to avoid them

This helps you educate patients and make them adept at tackling minor health challenges on their own. 

Challenges of Implementing Knowledge Management in Healthcare 

Although knowledge management can be game-changing for the healthcare industry, its implementation is not free of challenges. 

From security issues to the rigid traditional mindset of physicians, here are some of the major challenges that can hinder knowledge management implementation in healthcare. 

Security Issues 

Security is a key concern of healthcare professionals when it comes to knowledge management. Healthcare data is sensitive and therefore needs a strong security system to prevent unauthorized access. As most knowledge management tools come with basic security, finding the one that offers enterprise-grade security can be a challenge. 

Poor Accessibility 

The sole aim of knowledge management is to make information conveniently accessible to all healthcare professionals. If you end up investing in tools that do not provide seamless accessibility, it will be a sheer waste of time and money. Finding information across devices will get cumbersome, making your knowledge management efforts futile. 

Rigid Mindset of Physicians 

Making physicians, especially the more experienced and aged ones, understand the importance of knowledge sharing in healthcare is a big challenge. Their rigid mindset may not allow them to evolve with the changing times. They might not be open to the concept of knowledge sharing at workplace, which can again hamper the implementation process.

Lack of a Systematic Process 

For successful knowledge management and sharing in healthcare, you need a systematic process to get things off the ground. Without laying out a proper plan and methodology, your knowledge management initiatives will not reach their full potential. They will not have a direction to follow, which will further hamper the implementation. 

Key Features of Knowledge Management in Healthcare 

A knowledge management system in healthcare should comprise the right features for successful implementation. 

Dive in to learn about the notable features that healthcare knowledge management tools must have. 

Multilingual Capabilities 

Large healthcare organizations have a global footprint with physicians working from different parts of the world. Knowledge management tools with multilingual capabilities can help both native and non-English-speaking physicians access and share knowledge with equal ease. This helps healthcare organizations eliminate geographical as well as language barriers. 

Smart Search

Doctors do not have the time to scroll through multiple pages of a knowledge base to get what they need. A unified search system that pulls in the most accurate and topic-relevant results is a key feature that knowledge management tools must have. Such a robust search system ensures easy and quick access to critical information. 

Collaborative Content Creation

A well-detailed information resource such as a healthcare knowledge base demands collaborative content creation. The best knowledge base software for healthcare come with built-in collaboration features that allow physicians to come together and work under one roof. 

This helps them bring forth their unique insights and contribute meaningfully to the document-building process. 

Robust Security 

Security is a crucial feature that is necessary to safeguard sensitive healthcare data. Any knowledge management tool you use should allow you to set certain restrictions at the page and folder level and keep specific sections of the content completely private. This prevents any unauthorized access to your knowledge base. 

Accessibility Across Devices & Browsers 

Another feature essential for healthcare knowledge management tools is accessibility. The knowledge management system you create should be easy to access across devices including mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. It should also work smoothly across all major browsers like Firefox, Google Chrome, and Internet Explorer. 

Best Practices to Implement Knowledge Management in the Healthcare Sector

It’s finally time to explore some actionable best practices to take your healthcare knowledge management to a whole new level. 

Audit the Content for Performance Improvement 

Healthcare professionals cannot afford to use outdated information. It can cost a patient’s life, so there is no question of your healthcare knowledge base scoring low in terms of content relevance. As new researches keep happening in various areas of healthcare, a regular knowledge base audit is a prerequisite. 

Regular audits enable you to spot knowledge gaps, identify inactive or broken links, and find medical keywords that aren’t returning accurate results.

Leverage this treasure trove of data to create articles on the latest healthcare information and improve the quality of existing content. All of this is possible with knowledge base reports. By displaying data in graphical and tabular form, reports make evaluating your knowledge base performance incredibly simple!

Watch this video to learn how knowledge-based reports work. 

Capture Feedback Regularly 

When you create a knowledge base for your healthcare organization, remember to add feedback forms at the end of every article. These are simple Yes/No forms that allow healthcare practitioners to give feedback on the usefulness of a particular article. They can also share detailed feedback and suggestions to improve an article’s quality. 

In addition to this, you can also add surveys to your knowledge base and get more qualitative feedback on the quality and helpfulness of healthcare information. 

This feedback then directly reaches your inbox, where you can evaluate it and take corrective actions. 

Here’s a quick video on how to add forms and surveys to your knowledge base. 

Make the Most of Visuals 

A mammoth amount of healthcare information can get overwhelming to go through for healthcare practitioners and patients. Such a knowledge management system ends up creating more issues than solving them. 

What you need is the right blend of written text, images, and videos to create an interactive platform that doesn’t feel like a burden. In fact, using visuals smartly can help you do away with unnecessary text, making your knowledge base look less cluttered. 

Moreover, supporting written information with relevant visuals helps you explain concepts and demonstrate processes in a more engaging way. 

Divide All Content Into Categories & Sub-Categories 

Navigating a healthcare knowledge base loaded with information can be both tedious and frustrating. There is no point if doctors have to spend hours aimlessly scrolling through pages and still not finding what they need. 

For seamless and quick navigation, it’s crucial to systematically arrange all healthcare information in relevant topics and categories. Decide the key topics and then create categories for each topic. 

Depending on the complexity of a topic, add more subcategories and logically organize the data for hassle-free navigation. Such a systematic process lets healthcare practitioners find the information they need in just a few clicks. 

Set Up a Process for Information Review & Verification 

Accuracy is of paramount importance when creating knowledge base articles. A minor error can lead to catastrophic losses and even costly lawsuits. 

With a rigorous information review and verification process, every article that goes into your knowledge base will prove to be highly accurate. But how to build such a process of careful review and analysis? 

Modern knowledge base tools comprise features that let your team work in collaboration and rigorously review all articles before they are passed on for publishing. Articles go through multiple stages of review so that any kind of errors or inaccuracies can be fixed on time. 

Make Healthcare Information Easy to Understand

Doctors and other medical staff working in your organization are well-versed with healthcare terminologies. But don’t assume patients have the same level of understanding. Some concepts and jargon might go over their head, and they will instantly feel out of place, making the knowledge base futile for them. 

Since complicated medical concepts and terms are going to be in abundance in your knowledge base, you can use contextual help like tooltips, lightboxes, and popups to explain them. 

Each one of these works differently. 

  • Tooltips are great for providing additional information related to a specific term or concept.  
  • To deliver exhaustive help, consider using a lightbox. It comes with a scroll bar effect that makes it perfect for delivering detailed help content. 
  • Interactive content can be shown easily via popups. These are also ideal for explaining key concepts or providing additional information. 

Create a Discussion Forum

You can also build an online discussion forum where healthcare practitioners can communicate with each other, share new ideas and bring forth their learnings and experiences. Such a forum is a hub for impactful conversations where innovative solutions are born. 

Doctors from across the world can take part in these discussions, exchange knowledge, and work together for the betterment of the healthcare system. 

Such forums also make doctors feel an integral part of the healthcare community, where their voices and opinions matter. They feel more invested, connected, and involved in improving the healthcare services provided to patients across the globe. 

Are you Ready to Take the Plunge?

From driving accurate decision-making to delivering post-discharge patient care services, knowledge management is at the heart of the healthcare ecosystem. It creates a knowledge-sharing culture where medical personnel can share nuggets of their learning and experiences.   

To boost knowledge management and reap the benefits it provides, you always need to be one step ahead of the game. Follow the knowledge management best practices for healthcare consistently given above and you will witness a significant difference in how information is captured, stored, and shared. 

For example, you can keep all your content organized in topic-specific categories, focus on searchability, and adopt a strict review system. Doing these simple things right will go a long way in improving the quality of healthcare you provide. 

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About the author

Bryan Wills is a seasoned expert in knowledge management with over a decade of experience in the field. His expertise extends across various domains, including Security & Compliance, User Management, Knowledge Management, Software Documentation, and Customer Support. His writings not only reflect his deep understanding of these subjects but also offer practical solutions and strategies to help organizations enhance their knowledge management processes. Bryan’s work has been published in GetFeedback, CustomerThink, and Apruve.