Knowledge Management for Public Health
Knowledge management (KM) provides a systematic approach to ensure that public health practitioners have access to the latest research and that they apply that research to public health programs at all levels of the health system—from the global, regional, and national levels down to the front lines. KM is an intentional process that includes identifying the knowledge needs of a particular audience and then generating, curating, and sharing relevant knowledge to help programs and organizations succeed.
Public health organizations that adopt KM strategies and practices can improve performance of health care workers and programs and contribute to reaching the end goal of improving health outcomes among communities. Using KM, public health programs can:
- Promote collaboration and learning
- Inform policy and advocacy
- Improve programs, practice, and research
- Enhance health training and education programs
KM programs are supported by three key components: people, processes, and technology.
- People generate, store, and share knowledge and can help cultivate an environment that encourages knowledge sharing and use of KM systems.
- Processes are the methods used to capture, curate, and share knowledge. These formal and informal processes must be embraced and integrated into an organization’s daily work flow to be most successful.
- Use of technology that is appropriate to the context can expedite knowledge storage, retrieval, and exchange.
KM has particular relevance for low- and middle-income country settings. It can address human resource issues related to retaining organizational knowledge and can provide mechanisms for purposefully exchanging needed knowledge in real time. Implementing a KM system can ensure that relevant health knowledge—data, research findings, best practices, programmatic guidance—flows up and down the health system, from national to district to community levels and back up again. KM approaches also facilitate the exchange of information across a given level of the health system, improving the effectiveness and efficiency of public health programs.
To learn more about how to integrate KM into your program:
- Join the Global Health Knowledge Collaborative on the IBP Knowledge Gateway. The Global Health Knowledge Collaborative (GHKC) is an inter-agency collaborative forum for sharing knowledge. (It was formerly known as the Knowledge Management Working Group.)
- Explore the Knowledge Management for Health and Development Toolkit, a repository of key resources identified by the GHKC to help organizations incorporate KM into their programs.
- Read about K4Health’s approach to KM and learn about the models and tools that we employ.
- Learn about K4Health’s KM field activities which support country-based programs to adopt, adapt, and scale up use of K4Health KM models and tools.
- Take the K4Health Knowledge Management (KM) 101 eLearning Course, a free course for public health professionals who would like to learn more about KM and its application to international public health programs.