Communication, trust and understanding are keys to successful Knowledge Management in healthcare. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done to build a knowledge-sharing culture in healthcare. Why?
” Communication, trust and understanding”, these words sound like something that would come from a marriage counselor. However, it is very true and applies to Knowledge Management in Healthcare as well. For any relationship, project or endeavor to be successful these three components have to be present. There should to be two-way communication of ideas, thoughts and plans. Next there should to be trust between the parties involved and then there should to be an understanding of the issues involved and an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the other parties.
Becoming a knowledge organization is a three-stage growth process.
The first stage is focused on technical systems of knowledge management in the organization, which enable locating and capturing knowledge. The second stage is focused on sharing and transferring knowledge and finally the third stage deals with generating new knowledge. (Kumar Et. al. 2005).
Limitations of the current healthcare system result in major gaps between evidence and practice, sub optimal quality, inequitable patterns of utilization, inadequate safety and reliability, and unsustainable cost increases. Furthermore, there are major problems of overuse, underuse, and misuse of healthcare. It has been estimated that only 14% of new scientific discoveries enter day to day clinical practice. Also, incorporating these new practices into clinical practice can take up to 17 years. (Doebbeling Et. al 2011) Is the problem with knowledge sharing or is it a problem of knowledge implementation?
If knowledge is valuable, what issues are there in trying to create a knowledge sharing culture?
In their article “Knowledge flow and exchange in interdisciplinary primary health care teams (PHCTs): an exploratory study” Sibbald Et. al. concluded as follows: “Information sharing in interdisciplinary teams is a complex and multifaceted process. Specific interventions need to be improved such as formalizing modes of communication, better organizing knowledge-sharing activities, and improving the active use of allied health professionals. Despite movement toward team-based models, senior physicians are often gatekeepers of uptake of new evidence and changes in practice.”
A lot of people still hold strongly to the adage, “knowledge is power”. They are afraid to let go of their tacit knowledge because this will make them lose their leverage, superiority or bargaining power. Organizations have to provide some motivation for knowledge sharing. An example can be seen in our text (Wickramasinghe Et al. 2009), at Buckman Labs (US) where employees gain financial rewards and higher positions for knowledge sharing.
Jose Carlos Tenorio Favero points out that an organization needs to start implementing Knowledge Management at the strategic level. This supports my suggestion that there must be some form of reward or motivation for Knowledge Sharing. The key players in an organization will be able to make such policies, thereby creating and sustaining a knowledge sharing culture.
Sameer Kumar and Ganesh Thondikulam. Information Knowledge Systems Management. 2005-2006, Vol. 5 Issue 3, p171-172
Shannon L. Sibbald, C. Nadine Wathen, Anita Kothari, Adam M. B. Day, Journal of the Medical Library Association. Apr2013, Vol. 101 Issue 2, p128-137
Bradley N. Doebbeling, Mindy E. Flanagan, Medical Care, Dec 1, 2011, Vol. 49, Issue. 12, pS3-S5 ” Emerging Perspectives on Transforming the Healthcare System: Key Conceptual Issues”
Wickramasinghe, N., Bali, R.K., Lehaney, B., Schaffer, J.L. & Gibbons, M.C. (2009). Healthcare Knowledge Management Primer. New York, NY: Routledge.
Jose Carlos Tenorio Favero, Knowledge Management Strategy: vision, purpose and value generation in an era of social learning. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMhGHufl4Cs