Creating Better Healthcare Through Communities of Practice

Associations and TechnologyE-Health is a relatively new term that defines the initiative of improving the continuity and level of healthcare patients receive.  It blends resources like technology, experience and information to improve healthcare. One important e-solution in the healthcare sector has been the evolution of virtual Communities of Practice (CoPs). Used as a means of generating and sharing knowledge and improving performance, CoPs enable healthcare organizations to develop health practioners’ knowledge and to bridge the knowledge gap between research and practice. For patients, this means better healthcare services.

The BMJ Group is a global solutions provider helping medical organizations and clinicians tackle today’s most critical healthcare challenges. The company began as a medical journal over 170 years ago and has since evolved to publishing new academic research, providing professional development solutions and creating new information-analysis tools. In their article, Creating a more efficient healthcare knowledge market: using communities of practice to create checklists, they further demonstrate the unique uses and value of communities of practice for patients and healthcare.

Medical colleges like the University of Central Florida Medical College are implementing CoPs as full programs to provide students with an authentic clinical context to promote deeper learning, professional identity formation, and adoption of the values of the profession. The programs connect students with faculty preceptors who pass on their own passion for medicine and extensive knowledge.

CoPs are just one component of the continuously expanding E-Health. Another emerging concept is peer to peer communities.  In the healthcare sector, the peer to peer communities provide a forum for medical professionals to gather and ask questions, share experiences, and provide solutions to medical challenges. For patients, it provides much better outcomes because of the breadth of expertise that is accessed during the discussions. Healthcare peer to peer groups may also consist of non-medical professionals like patients, family members, and caregivers. One of the key benefits is the social network that forms bringing together people from across the globe who share common interests and challenges.

But where there is success, there is also failure.  An investigation of 57 CoPs from major European and U.S. companies identified common reasons for failure. Two of the most critical failure points were identified as lack of a core group and a low level of one-to-one interaction between members. Online communities are about communication and collaboration, which is why the team at iCohere developed a ROADMAP FOR COMMUNITY SUCCESS to provide clients with the tools needed to launch and grow a thriving online CoP.

If you would like to learn more about Communities of Practice as part of your E-Health solutions, visit



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