Background: The concept of knowledge management has been prevalent in the business sector for decades. Only recently has knowledge management been receiving attention by the health care sector, in part due to the ever growing amount of information that health care practitioners must handle. It has become essential to develop a way to manage the information coming in to and going out of a health care organization. The purpose of this paper was to summarize previous studies from the business literature that explored specific knowledge management tools, with the aim of extracting lessons that could be applied in the health domain.
Methods: We searched seven databases using keywords such as "knowledge management", "organizational knowledge", and "business performance". We included articles published between 2000-2009; we excluded non-English articles.
Results: 83 articles were reviewed and data were extracted to: (1) uncover reasons for initiating knowledge management strategies, (2) identify potential knowledge management strategies/solutions, and (3) describe facilitators and barriers to knowledge management.
Conclusions: KM strategies include such things as training sessions, communication technologies, process mapping and communities of practice. Common facilitators and barriers to implementing these strategies are discussed in the business literature, but rigorous studies about the effectiveness of such initiatives are lacking. The health care sector is at a pinnacle place, with incredible opportunities to design, implement (and evaluate) knowledge management systems. While more research needs to be done on how best to do this in healthcare, the lessons learned from the business sector can provide a foundation on which to build.