July/August 2002

Knowledge Management Pilot Delivers Benefits to Pharmacists


The first pilot of Catholic Health Initiatives’ knowledge management initiative is giving pharmacists more time to focus on patients and maximize the effectiveness of shared resources. The pilot is improving pharmacists’ ability to access and share best practices by cataloging and storing information in an electronic document repository. "Knowledge management is not a new concept to Catholic Health Initiatives," said Colleen Fedders, director of knowledge management at Catholic Health Initiatives. "It is the idea of enabling people to continuously learn and apply knowledge by giving them access to the knowledge they need in a context they can use. We are connecting the people, processes and technology to make knowledge management more effective." The goals of the pilot project are to:
  • Improve collaboration in developing leading practices across Catholic Health Initiatives pharmacies.
  • Provide a way for pharmacists to share knowledge with their peers.
  • Enable faster, more efficient implementation of cost-saving initiatives.
"For example, every pharmacist is responsible for staying up to date on research into new drugs and new uses for drugs already on the market," said George Hill, director of pharmacy for Catholic Health Initiatives. "Now, when one pharmacist reviews a set of research findings, he or she can add that information to the knowledge management database. This should reduce the collective time our pharmacists spend reviewing literature and allow all of our pharmacists to spend more time focusing on patients. "We can also share programs across the organization," he continued. "For example, Saint Joseph Hospital in Lexington, Ky., has an excellent pain management program. Saint Joseph’s pharmacists have added the program to the knowledge management effort. Now, other market-based organizations can use the St. Joseph program as a template and simply customize it to meet their needs." A critical first step of the pilot program was defining the content and structure of the knowledge management database. Volunteers from market-based organizations that participated in the pilot program answered questions such as:
  • What information should be included?
  • How should it be organized?
  • Who will use it?
  • Who will own it?
For now, public folders in Catholic Health Initiatives’ Microsoft Outlook system are serving as an interim document repository until a national task force can select document management software for the entire knowledge management initiative. Pharmacy’s public folders are maintained by pharmacy experts across Catholic Health Initiatives. "The people who use the information are the same people responsible for populating, updating and maintaining the system," said Fedders. "This is key to the success of the program." The next step was educating pharmacists about the new system. Hill and Fedders conducted training sessions for pharmacy directors in May, which enabled the directors to educate their staff members. In addition, the team developed a manual that includes step-by-step education on how to use public folders. When Catholic Health Initiatives pharmacists hold their annual meeting in October, Fedders and Hill will deliver an update on the program, including an evaluation of usage rates. "This is an evolving process," said Fedders. "As people become comfortable using this system, we anticipate that they will have many recommendations to improve its efficiency and ease of use." Volunteers for the Pharmacy Knowledge Management Pilot Program include: Michael Bonck, RPh St. Joseph Medical Center, Tacoma, Wash. Beth Eagleton, RN St. John’s Regional Medical Center, Joplin, Mo. Colleen Fedders Catholic Health Initiatives, Denver, Colo. George Hill, RPh Catholic Health Initiatives, Erlanger, Ky. Stephen Johnson, RPh St. Anthony Central Hospital, Denver, Colo. Bill Mitchell, MD Catholic Health Initiatives, Denver, Colo. Brian Sullivan, RPh St. John’s Regional Medical Center, Joplin, Mo. Durran Taylor, RPh Saint Joseph Hospital, Lexington, Ky.

What is Knowledge Management? Knowledge management helps an organization reach its goals by providing access to and supporting the application of information, and by promoting learning throughout the organization. Creating this type of learning environment requires practices, systems and a culture that encourages the continuous sharing of experiences and learnings. A successful knowledge management system:
  • Motivates knowledge sharing through reward and recognition.
  • Provides information when it is needed, and in the right context, for effective decision-making.
  • Connects people and encourages the application of learnings that add value to the organization.
"The goal of Catholic Health Initiatives’ knowledge management program is to create the ability to tap into our own expertise so that we can continuously learn from each other and improve our services," said Fedders. "Over time, we hope to have a program that will be an effective enabler for every goal of our organization." For more information, contact Colleen Fedders at colleenfedders@catholichealth.net.