Many of today’s healthcare organizations still show symptoms of underdeveloped knowledge management processes. In this guest post, Mike Hicks, VP of strategy at a developer of online communities and social software for business, offers symptoms that suggest your information management process might be lacking and ways to fix them.


In a recent survey, 53% of healthcare professionals expressed concern that documents they create and distribute daily aren’t up to date, and 46% of those surveyed indicated a lack of confidence in the security of that information. Insights like these should serve as a wake-up call for the industry – proper documentation isn’t just important from a compliance standpoint, it’s critical to ensure the positive outcomes for patients.

Take the example of a small medical practice where digital intake documents are kept on an intranet with an improperly secured network. Mining for sensitive information to sell on the black market, hackers breach the network and steal thousands of records. The result is devastating. IBM estimates the average data breach costs $3.6 million – or $141 per record. Patients flee from the practice they once trusted, and on top of the cost to fix the breach, hefty regulatory fines are paid.

Fortunately, modern software solutions paired with best practices and protocols can help medical institutions avoid negative outcomes and other problems that can arise with inconsistent documentation.

Things to think about

Health professionals concerned their own organization might be lacking in knowledge sharing practices should consider the following symptoms and cures:

1. Symptom: Healthcare and medical staff frequently use out of date or incorrect forms. This can be frustrating in any industry. But for health care, where documentation is heavily regulated and compliance standards can often change, it’s crucial for medical providers to access the right forms across the organization. Outdated documents can lead to duplicate work and unnecessary confusion, meaning healthcare professionals spend less time with patients and more time with paperwork.

1. Cure: Leverage technology to standardize all paperwork. Consider modernizing and upgrading your current document system. Many modern solutions have functionality like automated form template updates, accessibility across devices and multiple user access options. When healthcare professionals can quickly locate and complete forms and other documentation, it means more time for patients and doctors.

2. Symptom: Doctors, nurses and technicians have trouble sharing what they learn. In the healthcare industry, each individual in the workplace has a wealth of unique knowledge they carry with them. From processes for interacting with patients to procedures for storing sensitive medical equipment, this information is vital and necessary to operations. However, many facilities struggle to offer a centralized process for employees to share this knowledge.

2. Cure: If your staff shows signs of the above, it’s time to evaluate your current knowledge management system. Oftentimes, employees don’t share what they’ve learned because they simply don’t know their healthcare facility has a formal knowledge sharing system in place. In this case, healthcare institutions can implement engagement strategies that educate, promote and reward the sharing of information. A modern healthcare organization that isn’t striving to offer the most efficient, pervasive knowledge sharing process is doing itself a disservice.

3. Symptom: The IT department says there’s an unhealthy security protocol. Intranet downtime, an influx of spam email and shared passwords among employees or departments can all be signs of weak security measures. Medical facilities house more personal and identifiable information than any industry, so information leaks can be devastating. When information is compromised, the facility could lose its good standing with patients – not to mention the potential loss of license and certifications.

3. Cure: Vet all data and knowledge solution providers. If IT raises concerns about any aspect of your knowledge or document sharing system, it’s critical you immediately investigate and double-check all best practices. If not, you may fail to comply with all local, state and federal regulations governing data security for personal information. Additionally, have critical and informed conversations with any vendor who supplies knowledge sharing tools – if they can’t provide a comprehensive overview of their security strategies and protocols, it could be time to choose another solution.

Don’t let any of the above ailments keep your staff from continuous learning or simply dealing with bad document management practices. It might be time to find the cause. Every second spent searching for paperwork or tracking down a coworker for protocols is a second not spent with the patient.

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