Development of Knowledge Management with Team Knowledge Officers

Best practice: The establishment of a network of 70+ Team Knowledge Officers (TKOs) to support knowledge-sharing and management and the development of library services in each specialty and department within the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT).

Who did it: Gwen Giles, Faculty Knowledge Manager, HEFT, together with Rachel Cooke, Head of Library Services and Knowledge Management, Surrey & Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.

Following recommendations contained in the Hill Report, HEFT Library Services developed a network of TKOs. This coincided with Good Hope Hospital becoming part of HEFT, in April 2008, and the subsequent need to improve communication across sites and within multi-site departments.

The Medical Director at the time took up the Chief Knowledge Officer role and supported the development of a network of TKOs by suggesting a workshop to encourage knowledge-sharing. This workshop was held in July 2009 and was led by Rachel Cooke, then the NHS Institute's Fellow for Knowledge Management.

The three Outreach Librarians (OLs) employed by HEFT Library Services were instrumental in making links with the TKOs in the specialties they served, providing them with a range of services to suit their needs: journal clubs, website development, tailored training in critical appraisal skills and literature searches to support guideline development, care pathways and patient information leaflets.

Most recently, the OLs have drawn up a baseline assessment of the knowledge-management tools used within each specialty or department, with the aim of supporting areas that are under-developed, such as after-action reviews, knowledge-retention and transfer for staff leaving the organisation.

The advantages of having a "point of contact" with the OL Service has been of great benefit to the TKOs and other clinicians: the improved awareness of the information resources available to them has led to better clinical effectiveness, patient safety and patient service quality. The OLs have developed a better understanding of the relevant specialties' needs.

Future plans are to use the knowledge management baseline assessment and to work with other departments to develop tools that will aid the dissemination of knowledge, as well as improving patient care and safety.

For more information, contact Gwen Giles at