Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2018

6 - Healthcare Information and knowledge management



This chapter considers some issues of the management of information and knowledge, including the management of collections, records and archives as they specifically affect healthcare information. These topics have a very large, general literature which will not be reviewed here. The focus will be on the areas where the problems and solutions are specific to the healthcare domain, or at least particularly pressing, or where the healthcare domain has been an innovator and a leader for the rest of the information sector. As we shall see, this has very often been the case, most especially for the well-resourced and information-intensive pharmaceutical sector (Bawden and Robinson, 2010). For overviews of a large literature on information management in the healthcare sector, see Berg (2004), Taylor (2006), Anagnostelis (2008), Bath (2008), Jha, Doolan, Grandt, Scott and Bates (2008), Cleveland and Cleveland (2008), Burke and Weill (2008), and Goldzweig, Towfigh, Maglione and Shekelle (2009).

The health sector has always been in the forefront of the adoption of new technologies for communicating information. Examples since the 1960s include the application of the digital computer, and later the PC; microforms; magnetic tape services and CD-ROMs; online databases; the web; intranets and portals; and mobile devices.

This chapter provides an overview of this scenario, with literature references as appropriate, picking out significant aspects and examples, and is structured into four sections:

  • • healthcare libraries and information services, looking at the contributions of various types and sectors of library/information services and networks of services within the health domain
  • • managing healthcare information, including the management of collections, records and archives, and knowledge
  • • providing healthcare information, covering aspects of information services which are particularly significant for healthcare
  • • standards, evaluation and impact, dealing with ways health information specialists have evaluated their own services and the information they provide, and their impact on the life and work of their users.
  • Two previous books have dealt thoroughly with some of these issues and should be consulted for the situation up to their dates of publication (Booth and Walton, 2000; Walton and Booth, 2004). A British Library Research Report from 1997 offers a review of many initiatives and research projects which formed the basis for current practice (Merry, 1997). Wood (2007a) gives a wide-ranging account of health sciences librarianship, particularly from a US perspective.