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How Efficient Knowledge Management in Healthcare Boosts Patient Care

Efficient knowledge management plays a critical role in elevating the quality of patient care, fostering collaboration, and ensuring the seamless exchange of critical information among healthcare professionals.

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By Ido Zamberg, MD
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Edited by Nelsy Mtsweni
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Fact-check by C8 Staff

Updated March 10, 2024.

a group of health care workers sharing medical information for better patient care

Accurate and timely knowledge has become an indispensable asset in healthcare. As the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic illustrated, quick and accurate knowledge dissemination is vital to respond to healthcare crises. However, despite the importance of patient care, around 80% of medical errors occur because healthcare providers need to communicate better, often due to problems with sharing and accessing information.

This underscores the need for effective knowledge management systems in healthcare. We'll discuss how effective knowledge management is essential for healthcare professionals and how it improves communication and significantly enhances patient care.

Meet the Expert

Ido Zamberg M.D. is a board-certified physician (General Internal Medicine and Anesthesia), currently a Fellow at the Division of Experimental Medicine, McGill University Health Center, Montreal, Canada

What Does Knowledge Management Mean in Healthcare?

Healthcare is a knowledge-driven industry—knowledge to diagnose ailments, prescribe effective treatments, and ultimately, improve patient outcomes. However, with the vast amount of clinical information generated daily, it's becoming increasingly challenging for healthcare providers to access, organize, and share this knowledge effectively. This is where knowledge management in healthcare comes into play.

Knowledge management in healthcare is the systematic process of creating, organizing, preserving, and sharing healthcare-related knowledge.

It's not just about collecting information, but also making sure that information is accessible, actionable, and transformative. That means knowledge management has to be multi-faceted and encompass key aspects:

  • Capture and aggregate knowledge from various sources, including clinical studies, research findings, best practices, and regulatory guidelines.
  • Curate and disseminate knowledge by filtering, organizing, and presenting information in a searchable and understandable way.
  • Translate knowledge into action to drive better decision-making, optimize clinical practice, and inform evidence-based care delivery.
  • Preserve and archive knowledge over time through repositories, knowledge bases, and institutional knowledge management policies.

» Make your organization's knowledge accessible to everyone on the team with this solution.

Why Is Efficient Knowledge Management Important in Healthcare?

New treatments and technologies emerge at a rapid pace in healthcare, making efficient knowledge management a cornerstone of quality care. It gives healthcare professionals a systematic approach to capture, organize, and share knowledge effectively. This can offer many benefits:

  • Enhanced patient care With timely, accurate, and relevant knowledge at their fingertips, healthcare professionals can make informed decisions, leading to more precise diagnoses, effective treatment plans, and improved patient outcomes. This can translate into reduced hospital stays, improved patient satisfaction, and a lower risk of readmissions.
  • Reduced medical errors Medical errors are largely preventable. Knowledge management systems can help identify and eliminate potential pitfalls in treatment protocols, clinical processes, and communication breakdowns.
  • Streamlined training and education Knowledge management facilitates continuous learning and development among healthcare professionals. By capturing and sharing best practices, evidence-based guidelines, and case studies, knowledge management can simplify medical training processes, reducing the time and resources required for new staff onboarding and ongoing professional development.
  • Promoting collaborative decision-making Efficient healthcare knowledge management means real-time sharing, breaking down silos, and fostering collaboration. Platforms like C8 Health offer instant access to peer expertise, accelerating innovation and improving patient care through informed decisions based on the latest information.

What Are the Current Challenges With Efficient Knowledge Management?

The healthcare industry is awash in data, with its compound annual data growth rate projected to reach 36% by 2025. This vast trove of information, while valuable, presents a unique set of challenges for healthcare organizations striving to implement efficient knowledge management practices.

Information Overload and Silos

Healthcare professionals are constantly inundated with new information, from research findings to clinical guidelines to administrative updates. This information overload can make it difficult for them to locate and access relevant information when needed, leading to inefficiencies and potential errors in patient care. Implementing strategies for reducing and preventing medical errors can be a vital approach to addressing this issue.

Besides volume, valuable knowledge often resides in silos, compartmentalized within individual departments, specialties, or even individual minds. This fragmentation of knowledge hinders collaboration and cross-pollination of expertise, preventing the organization's collective wisdom from being fully utilized.

Lack of Standardization

Healthcare organizations often use diverse platforms and tools to store and manage their knowledge, leading to inconsistencies and incompatibilities. This lack of standardization makes it cumbersome for healthcare professionals to navigate through various systems and sources to find the information they need.

Plus, time is a precious commodity. Healthcare providers often struggle to dedicate time for knowledge searching and absorption, leading to a reliance on outdated or inaccurate information.

Implementation Hurdles

Developing and implementing a comprehensive knowledge management strategy requires a systematic approach, with clear goals, defined roles, and a dedicated team. Without proper planning and execution, knowledge management initiatives can falter, failing to deliver the desired outcomes.

However, once these challenges have been overcome, a successful knowledge management system can help boost patient care. Let's consider a hypothetical example below.

Improving Patient Care through Better Knowledge Management

Within specific units or departments, a multidisciplinary approach is common, with various healthcare professionals working together to care for patients. For instance, in a surgical setting, there may be around ten people working together, including anesthesiologists, nurses, surgeons, and instrument technicians.

To achieve their goal of optimal patient care, this group must communicate efficiently and have access to the same information. Knowledge management systems can help here by:

  • Centralizing knowledge: Knowledge management systems can capture and store knowledge from a variety of sources, including clinical guidelines, research papers, and best practices from experienced clinicians. This knowledge can then be easily accessed by all members of the team.
  • Sharing and disseminating knowledge: Knowledge management systems can help to share and disseminate knowledge throughout the team.
  • Facilitating collaboration: Knowledge management systems provide a central place for team members to share and access knowledge from any profession, department, or discipline, facilitating collaboration across teams.

For example, an anesthesiologist must understand the details of cardiac surgery: how it will happen, which medications the surgeons want them to stop beforehand, and what the critical moments are so they can be prepared. They also need to be aware of the patient's comorbidities and what happened to them before they arrived for surgery. This fosters good practice for safe medication administration.

Each department has its own set of guidelines. To achieve the best results for patients, it's crucial that these guidelines are accessible to everyone involved. This means not only do anesthesiologists have access to anesthesia guidelines but also make surgical and nursing guidelines available. It's essential that we bridge the gap in healthcare.

Dr. Daniel Katz (Vice Chair of Education, Department of Anesthesia, Mount Sinai) shares his experience of how efficient knowledge management has boosted patient care:

C8 Health: Simplifying Knowledge Management in Healthcare

With C8 Health, providers can easily find and apply their institutions’ best practices, resulting in a better clinical experience and adherence, improved staff wellness, and standardization of care. Plus, the platform helps to reduce healthcare professionals' administrative load to manage and disseminate medical guidance, ensuring the entire team is always up-to-date. This means:

  • Every item is internally vetted by a local stakeholder.
  • Information is available to your entire team on web and mobile, and from the anesthesia station.
  • The whole team gets automatically notified of any changes or updates.
  • Information is instantly accessible through AI-powered search.

Efficient knowledge management puts vetted, evidence-based, and updated information at healthcare professionals' fingertips, allowing them to give their patients better care.

Enhancing Patient Care with Knowledge Management

Efficient knowledge management is essential for healthcare professionals to deliver high-quality care. By centralizing knowledge, sharing and disseminating it effectively, and facilitating collaboration, knowledge management systems can help healthcare providers make better decisions, reduce medical errors, and improve patient outcomes.

While there are challenges to implementing effective knowledge management systems, such as information overload, silos, and lack of standardization, the benefits are clear. By overcoming these challenges, healthcare organizations can create a culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration that leads to better patient care.