Knowledge Management (KM) in Healthcare Systems

KM is a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, managing, and sharing all of an enterprise’s information assets, including database, documents, policies and procedures, as well as unarticulated expertise and experience resident in individual workers (Wickramasinghe, 2003). There are many dimensions around which knowledge can be characterized such as storage media, accessibility, typology and hierarchy.

Knowledge Management (KM) is an essential tool in today’s emerging healthcare system. Hospitals that seek to deploy KM systems need to understand the human element in the process. Earlier, success factors were only restricted to a few healthcare variables such as patient care and cost, but over the years, technology (both clinical and administrative) has evolved as a differentiating variable, thus redefining the doctrines of competition and the administration of healthcare treatments. One of the key objectives of a KM system is to insulate a hospital’s intellectual knowledge from degeneration (Elliot, 2000).
The UK public sector now typically spends an estimated ?2 billion per annum on IT, equating to around 1% of the public purse (Holmes & Poulymenakou, 1995), while the NHS spends around ?220 million annually on IT in hospitals (Audit Commission, 1995). Information technology is transforming the healthcare environment in ways that go beyond simple consumer health information Web sites (Hoagland, 1997).

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