Knowledge Base Resources: The Age of Peer-to-Peer Learning, Engagement and Collaboration
Knowledge Base Introduction
Technology is continually evolving and plays an essential role in daily life, including the world of behavioral healthcare. From mobile health applications and electronic health records to advanced office equipment and telehealth, modern technology makes healthcare more efficient and accessible. As technology constantly changes, knowledge bases must stay current.
A knowledge base is a centralized repository for information—a database of related information about a particular subject. Knowledge bases promote the collection, organization and retrieval of specific information. They not only store data, but assist the populations using them with problem solving and collaboration. Some knowledge bases simply store information in a structured format, much like an encyclopedia, while others promote more user engagement through discussion and action. In an age where technology expands at an exponential rate, knowledge bases are a single puzzle piece that can provide abundant information that is accessible in seconds anywhere an internet connection is available.
The Evolution of Peer-to-Peer Information Exchange
Prior to the use of internet and online knowledge bases, people traveled to libraries, read newspapers, used physical maps and shopped in stores. Of course people still do all of those things, but today they have the option of typing a few words on a keyboard and clicking a button to retrieve the same information in seconds, all from the comfort of their homes, offices and mobile phones. For behavioral healthcare workers, technology is sometimes slower to evolve, but it certainly simplifies work tasks when properly utilized.
Just a few decades ago, all healthcare information was documented on paper and stored—occupying physical space. Both medical and behavioral health fields become increasingly more complex as the healthcare landscape progresses over time. Clinicians and doctors want to treat clients and patients with the latest information and current evidence-based treatment approaches. With the development and evolution of EHRs, clinicians, billers and other health workers experience improved efficiency, reduced costs and improved coordination of care.
To supplement the use of EHRs, some companies have developed knowledge bases to improve the overall experience of their end users (clinicians, billers, psychiatrists, doctors, etc.). EHR knowledge bases can include: system documentation, technical requirements, thought leadership articles, industry news, tutorials and both public and private discussion forums. EHR users that have an accessible knowledge base experience various benefits that improve their consumer experience.
Benefits and Features of Knowledge Bases
There are numerous benefits to utilizing an EHR that has an integrated knowledge base for its users. Some of those benefits include the following:
- Staying informed about EHR vendor updates, developments and system enhancements
- Learning tips, tricks and workarounds for EHR best practices through peer-to-peer discussion
- Access to all EHR vendor documentation about products, features, system functionality and technical requirements
- Receiving timely and trending information about news and industry developments including thought leadership articles, white papers and news posts
- Improved communication among EHR vendor staff, customer points-of-contact and system end users
When behavioral healthcare providers search for an EHR system to incorporate into their daily practices, most probably do not consider the importance of having access to a user community group or knowledge base. There are hundreds of EHRs to choose from, many of which are quite similar to one another. An integrated knowledge base is not usually a factor that holds much weight in the EHR selection process, but it should be. Andy McCraw, President of Welligent, explains how an integrated knowledge base can improve a users’ experience: “Integrating a virtual knowledge base, Welligent Community, into our EHR will go a long way for improving the experience of our end users. Now, we can easily provide information related to the system, our business practices, regulatory issues and payor requirements, all consolidated in one place. And since the information is constantly changing, it’s easy for us to make updates and publish it in real time. Allowing our customers and staff to engage each other through social collaboration is also an innovative way to support our users.” EHRs that have a knowledge base available to their users encourage peer-to-peer engagement among all customers. This is important when considering EHR selection among behavioral health practitioners for several reasons.
To begin with, an EHR vendor that encourages communication among its customers provides an element of transparency, letting users know that their EHR vendor is open to feedback and its practices are undisguised. A public discussion forum that allows customers to freely share opinions and ideas about system functionality and best practices provides staff from different organizations with a new perspective. For example, maybe organization A is utilizing a designated EHR report to generate specific data about claim rejections. Organization B logs into their EHR’s knowledge base because they are having trouble determining patterns in claim rejections and finds a discussion forum post addressing that issue. The two organizations may now engage with one another, reinforcing knowledge for organization A and solving an ongoing issue for organization B.
Integrated knowledge bases not only allow customers to engage with one another, but also with the staff of the EHR vendor directly. Most EHR companies have phone, email or other forms of online support, but a knowledge base provides an additional point of contact between the EHR and the customer. A knowledge base offers customers that prefer to problem-solve independently a platform for navigating past questions and answers. Additionally, abundant resources are available in knowledge bases that allow a savvy EHR consumer to be engaged, aware of industry trends and able to predict future developments in technology and behavioral healthcare.
In today’s ever-changing behavioral health landscape, keeping up can sometimes seem overwhelming. Besides the evolution of modern high-tech trends like mobile apps and telehealth, mental health legislation and ethical standards change constantly. It is vital to be technologically proficient to navigate today’s world of behavioral healthcare. Knowledge bases increase the ability of behavioral health workers to stay current with EHR best practices, industry movements, ethical guidelines and legislative developments. When behavioral health providers select an EHR, they should consider the additional benefits of an integrated knowledge base that will assist their organizations in staying relevant and informed.
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