Knowledge management has been defined as the process of creating platforms and utilizing different technologies to enable the key processes of knowledge acquisition, sharing or dissemination, and utilization or exploitation. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), knowledge management is the use of technology to enable people to create, capture, store, retrieve, use, and share knowledge. Knowledge management for health provides a systematic approach to ensure that healthcare professionals have access to the latest research and that they apply that research to inform programs and practices at all levels of the health system — from the global, regional, and national levels down to the front lines.
In other words, knowledge management is an intentional process that includes identifying the knowledge needs of a particular audience and then generating, curating, and sharing relevant knowledge to help deliver effective programs. Globally, more and more people are using handheld devices to access the internet and healthcare professionals are no exception. With such widespread internet access, it is increasingly essential for health and allied organizations to utilize these services for knowledge management platforms and mechanisms to promote collaboration, learning, and continuous quality improvement.
AIHA’s Knowledge Management Program
AIHA’s current Knowledge Management Program has its roots in our USAID-supported Learning Resource Center (LRC) Project, which was launched in the 1990s to expand use of information and communications technologies as a way to improve care at twinning partnership institutions in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
Over a 10 year span, AIHA established more than 140 LRCs at hospitals, clinics, universities, and health ministries across Eurasia. LRCs served as critical knowledge and communications hubs, providing access to evidence-based clinical resources through online databases, such as PubMed, Cochrane Library, and HINARI. AIHA trained LRC Information Coordinators to manage the centers and serve as agents of change by responding to information requests and teaching other health and allied professionals how to effectively search for evidence-based resources.
AIHA’s Knowledge Management Program is guided by the following four strategic directions:
During the past decade, AIHA has established nearly 40 Knowledge Management Centers (KMCs) in sub-Saharan Africa through our HIV/AIDS Twinning Center Program, along with other knowledge management initiatives tailored to the specific needs of our local partners.
Through the KMCs and other technology for health projects, AIHA’s Knowledge Management Program helps partners build sustainable institutional and human resource capacity through the open exchange of knowledge, information, and professional experience within the context of HIV/AIDS treatment, care, and support services.
Due to the diversity of our partnership institutions under the Twinning Center, LRCs are now located not only in hospitals, but also in schools of health and allied professions, media institutes, specialized care centers, and even within military medical services. AIHA is increasingly working to ensure that these organizations utilize available hardware such as mobile phones and tablets to more effectively access evidence-based information to improve quality of care and rational use of limited resources.
Increasing the Focus on mHealth
Selected Program Results
- AIHA and our partners in Eurasia established 140 KMCs between 1995 and 2002, which collectively provide information services to a community of more than 60,000 medical professionals across the region.
- In 2005, AIHA began piloting our Knowledge Management Program in Africa. Since then, we’ve established a total of 37 KMCs, including 25 in Zambia, seven in Ethiopia, two in Nigeria, and one each in Botswana, Mozambique, and Namibia.
- In 2011, AIHA launched Kiota Cha Ustawi (www.kiota.or.tz), a social work knowledge hub based in Tanzania. Kiota serves as an online resource for evidence-based information on social work and a knowledge sharing forum for members of the social welfare workforce, including faculty and students of some 13 social work schools throughout Tanzania.
- AIHA has been partnering with ZDF’s Military Medical Services since 2005 to optimize access to evidence-based information and improve quality of care, particularly at health facilities in remote areas. Together, AIHA and ZDF have established 21 KMCs to date.
- To help build sustainable local capacity, AIHA trained a team of ZDF Master Trainers. To date these trainers have provided on-site trainings and national workshops on evidence-based practice and knowledge management for 1,193 health professionals; in addition, KMC Coordinators provide ongoing training and support at their respective sites. ZDF sites now have active QI committees that look at the quality gaps in the provision of care and treatment and provide solutions to challenges/gaps identified in patient care and treatment. Sites also use the library for knowledge sharing and weekly bulletins.
- AIHA has placed a strong focus on the use of mobile devices in clinical and didactic settings to improve both the quality of patient care, as well as the learning experiences for students of the health professions, including nursing students in Tanzania and clinical associate students in South Africa.
- AIHA developed training courses on information literacy, various evidence-based medicine and social work topics, and effective online research that are tailored to meet local needs. We offer many of these as distance courses and have conducted 248via this modality since 2007, reaching more than 519 participants.
- Information coordinators from AIHA’s KMCs in Eurasia trained more than 15,000 healthcare providers in the use of computers and the internet as tools of evidence-based research and responded to over 42,000 requests for information from clinicians and patients between 1997 and 2002.
- In 2013, AIHA and our partners at the University of the Witwatersrand piloted the Digital Integration of Clinical Associates Studies (DICAS) program using Dimagi’s CommCare application to help better manage and document the clinical placements of students in hospital settings. AIHA provided 12 clinical associate students placed at Germiston Hospital in South Africa’s Gauteng Province with tablets pre-loaded with information and learning resources. The university is now rolling out DICAS to all first and second-year clinical associate students.
- AIHA provides training on the use of hand-held mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to facilitate access and utilization of clinical reference information at the point of care. Medscape, Lexi-comp, Skyscape, Epocrates, and other medical apps are just a few of the resources accessible using mobile devices, as are PubMed for Handhelds and the Drug Information Portal from the National Library of Medicine.
- AIHA is set to launch a telemedicine pilot project with ZDF in the summer of 2015. ZDF’s referral center, Maina Soko Hospital in Lusaka, will serve as the main site with remote materials rolled out to Mt. Eugenia Zambia Airforce Base, Sciences, Kabwe Air Force Base, Luena Air Force Base, Defense Force School of Health Sciences, and the Zambia National Service Base at Luamfumu.