Academic journal article Communications of the IIMA

An Observation of Healthcare Knowledge Management

Academic journal article Communications of the IIMA

An Observation of Healthcare Knowledge Management

Article excerpt


In the United States, the rising rate of the population, coupled with the increase in life expectancy, is 11 percent from 2000 to 2012 and 2 percent from 2000 to 2009 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012), respectively. The rapid growth of population is placing a mounting demand and burden upon the current healthcare industry. As a result of this growing influx, doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies are required to accommodate more patients for preventive and end of life needs. Additionally, not only are faced with capacity issues, doctors have to consider risk management, where poor information sharing amongst doctors and testing facilities can result in errors in medical diagnosis and treatment (Guptill, 2005). Therefore, medical institutions (e.g., hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and nursing homes) are currently or will be faced with growing amount of unstructured and unorganized data (Beath, Becerra-Fernadez, Ross, & Short, 2012), impeding the ability of doctors to make well informed decisions, and for medical facilities to make strategic decisions for operations and expansion.

The health care industry is currently at a handicap stage in terms of meeting the growing demand of the general population (Economist, 2012). In order for the healthcare industry to become efficient and effective organizations in meeting demand, it is predictable that they must adopt knowledge management principles. Through the development of information technology (IT), current and future medical data and information can be leveraged to develop knowledge-based solutions that facilitate collaboration amongst institutions and address the demand for healthcare by improving record management, and the development of more efficient methodologies to diagnose and treat patients in a timely manner.


Knowledge includes data, information, and experience. It is the combination of facts, analysis, trainings, and lessons learned that comprise knowledge for an individual. The concept of knowledge management provides individuals and organizations with practices and methodologies that utilize a combination of intellectual capital, business processes, and IT solutions to provide organizations with more efficient and effective operational means. Through the capture, organization, codification (conversion of knowledge), distribution, and utilization of knowledge, companies can leverage and embrace knowledge management practices that enable employees to conduct positive operations. Additionally, the repository of various types of knowledge within an organization allows future generations to learn from past mistakes and to devise innovative solutions for business needs (Awad, 2010).

Generally speaking, knowledge is divided into two distinct categories called explicit and tacit knowledge. Explicit knowledge is information that is easy to capture, structure, and share with individuals. For example, explicit knowledge can be the documentations like hospital policies and procedures and clinic diagnostic methodologies. Alternatively, tacit knowledge is comprised of experience and skills that an individual can acquire overtime and apply to problems. The exposure to events over time can evolve a person's thought process. Tacit knowledge is difficulty to capture, structure, and transfer to other individuals (Awad, 2010). Furthermore, Korthari, Hovanec, Hastie, and Sibbald (2011) defines tacit knowledge as the understanding of how and why with regard to a particular subject area. Because of the degree of complexity, objectivity, and subjectivity, tacit knowledge is difficult to capture and transfer without dedicating significant resources to codify the knowledge into an explicit form that can be used by others.

Types of Healthcare Knowledge

From a micro level, knowledge can be further refined. In the healthcare industry, further examination helps to define the various aspects of the healthcare industry and domain that can be taken into consideration with regard to the integration of knowledge management practices. …

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