The Role of Knowledge Management in Health Care IT Program Delivery

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The health care industry sees new research trials and findings almost every day. The knowledge around human health gets updated, extended or corrected constantly. Health issues are impacted by many external factors such as climate, environment, technologies, wars, food supply chain, and human interactions. New diseases that spread across borders (e.g., SARS, Ebola, Zika) require health professionals to globally share associated knowledge in real-time. A cognitive Healthcare Knowledge Management (HKM) is now imperative for data-driven decision-making and resulting improved patient care.

Health care has seen impressive strides in digital transformation in the past two decades. Adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHR) and investment in health care IT (HIT), which is estimated to be around $40 million annually, have led to significant improvements in patient care quality. Now 41 percent of health care providers are adopting or have adopted an enterprise-wide digital strategy, and 50 percent of healthcare CIOs expect IT budget to continue to increase in 2018 and 2019.

The healthcare knowledge management challenge is information interoperability to enable exchanging, assessing, synthesizing and articulating the multisource and multiformat healthcare information into a coherent knowledge-base that can be leveraged in day-to-day patient engagement. This problem is a responsibility carried on by practitioners, hospitals, regional health information exchanges, and government. It is a critical issue that all stakeholders within the broader health ecosystem should care about.
Benefit 1: Enabling Evidence-Based Healthcare
A cognitive HKM enables evidence-based healthcare practice by providing a dynamic knowledge base that incorporates individual clinical expertise and experience, patients' unique preferences or concerns, external clinical evidence, and medical developments.

Knowledge Management is important in all industries; but in the case of health care, it saves lives.
Benefit 2: More Accurate Clinical and Medical Decisions
Misdiagnosis (medical errors) is one of the top leading causes of death in the United States. According to BMJ Quality & Safety's 2014 study, one out of 20 adult patients are misdiagnosed each year, and half of these cases had the potential to result in serious harm. Misdiagnosis is believed to have contributed to 10 percent of patient deaths.

These errors also result in millions of dollars in costs associated with medical malpractice lawsuit settlements (30 percent of lawsuits are related to failed or delayed diagnosis) and higher medical liability premiums, which make it more difficult for health organizations to focus on patient care quality improvement initiatives.

Having an institutional knowledge-base of combined experiences and latest findings is an effective way to reduce errors and mistakes.
Benefit 3: Culture of Innovation and Continuous Learning 
Top-down emphasis on knowledge sharing motivates health care employees to invest in their own learning and enables sharing and implementation of new ideas. It's critical that employees are given the incentives, tools, and accountability to constantly enhance organizational knowledge.

Active KM culture will lead to a more consistent quality of care and empower health professionals to keep advancing their expertise.
Benefit 4: Collaboration Throughout a Patient Journey
An effective HKM system enables all the stakeholders involved in patient care (including primary care physicians, secondary care, insurers, etc.) to capture wider parts of patient experience and share knowledge about health outcomes.
Such industry-wide knowledge sharing can push the boundaries of knowledge-driven health care on a global scale.
Conclusion
Healthcare Knowledge Management needs to be comprised of multiple levels: internal to care teams, throughout provider organizations, across multiple organizations in a broader network, and global industry-wide knowledge sharing. This is no easy feat. The entire KM architecture - from data collection to verification and synthesis, to decision-making support - goes beyond software installation. There are two main types of knowledge assets to consider - explicit (e.g., results of new research and trials) and tacit (e.g., personal experience with patients). Accessing and managing these knowledge assets entails re-engineering organizational processes around new technology to ensure results and minimize asset administrative burdens. HIPAA health information security and privacy add to the knowledge asset management challenge.

We believe the health care providers - both private hospitals and government agencies - should partner with HIT SMEs to integrate automated, interoperable knowledge-sharing system into each organization's workflows.


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IRIS Health Solutions has been delivering excellence and value to both commercial and Federal clients since 2006. IRIS has been at the epicenter of health IT transformation in the United States since its inception helping health organizations strategize, manage and build health IT systems and adjunct programs.

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