"Customer" knowledge management in healthcare
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- Publisher: Academic Conferences and Publishing International
This paper reports on a work-in-progress project on the management of patient knowledge in a UK general hospital. Greater involvement of patients is generally seen as crucial to the effective provision of healthcare in the future. However, this presents many challenges, especially in the light of the ageing population in most developed countries and the consequent increasing demand for healthcare. In the UK, there have been many attempts to increase patient involvement by the systematisation of patient feedback, but typically they have not been open to academic scrutiny or formal evaluation, nor have they used any knowledge management principles. The theoretical foundations for this project come first from service management and thence from customer knowledge management. Service management stresses the importance of the customer perspective. Healthcare clearly meets the definitions of a service even though it may also include some tangible elements such as surgery and provision of medication. Although regarding hospital patients purely as "customers" is a viewpoint that needs to be used with care, application of the theory offers potential benefits in healthcare. The two main elements we propose to use from the theory are the type of customer knowledge and its relationship to attributes of the quality of the service provided. The project is concerned with investigating various knowledge management systems (KMS) that are currently in use (or proposed) to systematise patient feedback in an NHS Trust hospital, to manage knowledge from and to a lesser extent about patients. The study is a mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative) action research investigation intended to answer the following three research questions: • How can a KMS be used as a mechanism to capture and evaluate patient experiences to provoke patient service change • How can the KMS assist in providing a mechanism for systematising patient engagement? • How can patient feedback be used to stimulate improvements in care, quality and safety?
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