Knowledge management: a fad or serious instrument for sustaining and improving quality healthcare?
This paper uses a number of knowledge management case studies to explain (1) the concepts of knowledge management and (2) how these apply to healthcare. Then, it examines how and where knowledge management initiatives might bring benefits in healthcare organisations. To present a more complete picture, the arguments of a number of critics of the knowledge management approach are considered. There have been many claims of the benefits that knowledge management (KM) can bring to the performance of healthcare organisations. Therefore, healthcare organisations are interested to know how KM can be used in a healthcare setting. This paper presents a number of KM case studies in healthcare organisations that have different functions and different KM needs. In contrast to these optimistic forecasts, some researchers have dismissed KM as a ‘fad’. In order to examine these criticisms, the paper presents an overview of the principles of KM. Knowledge management case studies, used alongside the KM principles provide a basis for examining these criticisms to decide if the KM claims are exaggerated or if KM is the foundation for providing quality healthcare.