Knowledge Management Is Key

hardy_seth_92016_cropThis post was contributed by Seth Hardy, MD, member of the ACR Commission on Economics.

Knowledge management is the strategic development of knowledge within an organization done to support its mission and enhance its competitive position. Active management of that knowledge promotes organizational sustainability.

Medicine is an industry entirely populated by knowledge workers.  I know of no other organization within medicine that manages knowledge or intellect better than the American College of Radiology (ACR).  This management takes three forms: human capital, social capital and recorded knowledge.

Human capital is understood to be the people who hold and create organizational knowledge. ACR members and staff stand out among their peers in terms of their ingenuity and productivity.  The culture of the ACR thrives with human capital who are secure in their positions and not threatened when challenged by a novel idea or by someone who is enthusiastic about pushing the boundaries of current thought.  Staff and members are allowed to think differently, a strategic advantage that is frequently missing in other organizations.  The ACR’s Radiology Leadership Institute (RLI) helps to support this human capital through their relationship with UMass’s online MBA program.

Social capital is comprised of the networks through which human capital interacts and innovates. Social capital is a strategic capability; the output of an organization is supported and enhanced by unique social connection between workers. It grants a sustainable competitive advantage to an organization by supporting collaborative innovation that is difficult for outsiders to replicate.  ACR Engage (login required) is a recent initiative through which the ACR can leverage social capital and facilitate the development of human capital throughout the year.

Recorded knowledge is generally understood to be published work such as articles within the Journal of the American College of Radiology (JACR®) and the ACR’s white papers.  This knowledge has been extracted from the human capital and placed in written form to share throughout and beyond the organization.  There is, however, little control over the intellectual property of recorded knowledge once disseminated. Artificial intelligence is another form of recorded knowledge; one that leverages future human capital by making it more efficient, creating a positive feedback loop within knowledge management.

Managing the knowledge within an organization is critical for its growth and development. Some health care systems are recognizing the importance of such management with the identification of a Chief Learning Officer.  For such a reorientation to be effective, however, knowledge workers within the organization must be receptive to it on both an individual and social level.

How does your practice or department handle knowledge management?

Do they make use of your human capital, social capital and recorded knowledge?

I invite you to use the ACR Engage platform or the comments section below to discuss.

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