Different Types of Knowledge in Healthcare

November 25, 2019
knowledge management in healthcare
There are six generally agreed-upon types of knowledge. Knowledge in the healthcare industry focuses on two of these: Explicit and Tacit.

There are six generally agreed-upon types of knowledge:

  1. Explicit
  2. Non-propositional
  3. Poteriori
  4. Priori
  5. Propositional
  6. Tacit

Knowledge in the healthcare industry focuses on two of these: explicit and tacit.

1. Explicit Knowledge

Explicit knowledge is recorded and communicated through different mediums; print, audio, and other records. What it contains is less important than how it’s contained. It can be quickly and easily transmitted from one individual to another and is organized systematically.

2. Tacit Knowledge

“Tacit knowledge” is a relatively new term. It first appeared in the 1950s. Tacit knowledge is much less easy to communicate and transfer because it involves a person’s ability (or specialized inherent knowledge).

For example, a master musician cannot transfer the knowledge of how to play the piano in a way that another person can immediately begin playing themselves. Tacit knowledge can only be achieved through experience.

Knowledge in the Healthcare Industry

The healthcare industry is complex; no matter what country or delivery system. It involves multiple professionals in diverse workplaces collaborating in order to deliver proper care to patients. Healthcare providers such as family physicians, nurses, specialists, lab technicians, and others use different systems and facilities to process patient data.

Patients often receive care at more than one medical facility, including clinics, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers that may or may not be affiliated with others. If patient data is not coordinated, duplication occurs. Detection, removal, and correction of redundant records is then required.

There are three main categories of healthcare knowledge:

  1. Provider knowledge typically contains both explicit and tacit knowledge. For instance, doctors must know the standard medical practice for a particular condition, but years of practice and experience have given them an internal knowledge base that can complement standard treatment.
  2. Patient knowledge is generally tacit and is often referred to as “health status.” A patient’s self-knowledge of current and past medical conditions is vital for providers to know if they are to diagnose, prescribe for, and treat illnesses.
  3. Organizational knowledge is data and information that’s available for providers’ and patients’ access. It often contains information collected from text-based materials, diagnostic systems, and other medical providers.


Because any knowledge created by one sector is important to all the others, knowledge management in the healthcare industry must find a way to satisfactorily manage the creation, storage, sharing, and use/reuse of this valuable information.

Knowledge Management (KM) Systems in Healthcare

The healthcare industry relies heavily on knowledge; evidence-based testing, diagnoses, and treatments are expected to be implemented in a patient’s best interests. It’s obvious that KM offers many advantages to the industry, but the adoption of knowledge management in healthcare has been challenging. Data and information are collected and organized from varied sources and processing it requires sophisticated tools and technologies.

The goal of knowledge management in healthcare is to provide decision-makers with the tools they need to turn information into a knowledge asset. There are different types of knowledge management strategies medical providers must identify to use KM effectively:

  • Health professional roles
  • Information-seeking behavior
  • Knowledge creation and transfer
  • Knowledge needs
  • Knowledge organization
  • Knowledge-sharing behavior

Knowledge in the healthcare industry includes

  • Data/information
  • Experience
  • Issues related to integration/storage/management
  • Need for innovative analytic approaches

A well-structured KMS can manage knowledge successfully for healthcare professionals. Caregivers and employees can learn and apply it in healthcare settings.

The goal of any information management system in healthcare should be to transform the organization into a learning one; a place where new knowledge is generated and shared. KM can improve the quality of care for patients. Increased proficiency leads to even better healthcare service.

Information will continue to come from ever-increasing sources and in greater volumes. The challenge of gathering and distilling data into actionable information must be aggressively met. A KMS designed to evolve with your organization offers a clear roadmap for achieving greater success through effective knowledge sharing and management.

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