J. Multidiscip. Res. Healthcare

Role of Knowledge Management in Providing Quality Care: A Conceptual Model

G N Sumathi

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Healthcare practitioner; knowledge management; healthcare organizations; conceptual framework; motivation; knowledge adoption; knowledge friendly culture

PUBLISHER The Author(s) 2016. This article is published with open access at www.chitkara.edu. in/publications

The purpose of the paper is to signify the effect of factors relating to knowledge management on quality care to patients. A theoretical framework is proposed linking healthcare practitioners’ motivation, knowledge adoption, adaption to web technologies and knowledge friendly culture on quality of care given to patients. The study includes two levels of variables to impart quality care, one is at the level of healthcare practitioner and another is at the organizational level. The factors regarding healthcare practitioner include the motivation to use knowledge management system, knowledge adoption and adaption to web technologies. The factor relating to organization includes the knowledge friendly culture. The conceptual model could be empirically tested using data from healthcare organizations. Propositions are posited for further research. The paper provides value to academicians and practitioners. The outcomes of the empirical study would identify the key factors that pushes healthcare practitioner to contribute to knowledge management system and the policy level modifications could be made to develop, alter and sustain knowledge friendly culture.


Organizations adopt knowledge management system (KMS) to gain competitive advantage through organizational learning [31] and organizational performance [27]. KMS is critical for healthcare organizations as its performance costs peoples’ life. The success of KMS depends on the collection, sharing and utilization of knowledge within and outside the organization. The role of information technology in healthcare sector is advancing with the developments in web technologies and decision support technologies [33]. The adoption of KMS in healthcare organization is critical in providing quality care to patients [25]. KM capture signals from healthcare members that help practitioners to interpret things better than doing on their own. It helps in the implementation of six sigma process in hospitals [15]. Organizations need to support healthcare practitioners in the utilization of KMS due to tremendous complexity in the healthcare system. Knowledge created by various stakeholders inclusive of physicians, specialists, nurses, radiologists, lab technicians, health workers, psychologists, counsellors, hospital administrators, managers, healthcare ministry, drug companies, health insurance companies etc. need to be utilized to deliver quality care to patients. With the growth of evidence based medicine, knowledge sharing becomes a necessity to avoid reinventing the wheel. It utilizes the reuse of medical decisions of experienced peer group and integrates individual clinical expertise. The access to biomedical literature although becomes cheaper and easier with web technologies, the information overload is a real crisis. Now the present challenge to healthcare practitioners is to acquaint with the trends and developments in the medical field. The role of knowledge management becomes critical to provide right information, at right time, in the right format to the right person. It minimizes long waiting times of patients which is identified as one of the reason for inefficiencies in Canadian healthcare system [4]. KM reduces medical errors due to slips, lapses and mistakes [30] and wrong drug prescription. Therefore the present study proposes that i) healthcare practitioner’s motivation to use KMS will improve the quality care to patients, ii) healthcare practitioner’s knowledge adoption will improve the quality care to patients, iii) healthcare practitioner’s adaption to use web technologies for knowledge management will improve the quality care to patients and iv) healthcare practitioner’s perception about knowledge friendly culture will improve the quality care to patients. 2

Page(s) 103–112
URL http://dspace.chitkara.edu.in/jspui/bitstream/1/759/3/22006_JMRH_Sumathi.pdf
ISSN Print : 2393-8536, Online : 2393-8544
DOI https://doi.org/10.15415/jmrh.2016.22006

The present study posited different propositions, bringing out the influence of individual level variables such as motivation to use the KMS, knowledge adoption, adaption to web technologies and the perception about knowledge friendly culture in the organization on quality of care provided to patients. As the extension of this paper, an empirical study shall be carried. This paper has highlighted the interplay of individual variables of healthcare practitioners in providing better patient service. More of psychological aspects of the healthcare practitioner need to be accounted in bringing the positive mindset among the service providers. The positive mindset in utilizing the KMS brings the maximum use of knowledge available within the organization, further extend to share knowledge across organizations making the boundary lines diminished. The utilization of KMS in the public sector although requires impending role of information technology, with the developments in the primary health centres and community health centres it is possible. The targets to meet Millennium development health goals are at our hands with the implementation and utilization of KMS.

Although there are other factors influencing the quality of care provided to patients, this study has considered only individual level and perceptual variables in usage of KMS. The study shall contribute to the literature on knowledge management examining from the micro organizational level and to the literature on quality care to patients in the healthcare sector. The empirical outcomes emerging as the extension of this study shall bring in policy amendments at the organizational level and at the ministry level. The integration of information technology with the existing KMS or the new KMS demands the organization to set mission to utilize the benefits of the KMS. The government needs to allocate sufficient funds in incorporating such change in the existing system and bring in amendments or new policies for the sustenance of KMS at the health centre level, hospital level and at higher institutional levels.

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