Computers and the Transformation of Medical Knowledge Management, Dissemination, and Use: How “Knowledge Coupling” Tools Can Democratize Health Care

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Computer technologies offer the potential to transform how we manage, disseminate, and use available medical knowledge in the care of patients. By “coupling” medical knowledge with patient-specific findings the best available and medically-relevant knowledge can be brought to bear on individual patients’ problems. In so doing, clinical problem solving becomes transparent and patients can come to take a greater role in their own care. Further, “knowledge coupling” computer tools reduce our reliance on the human mind and its widely known and documented limitations. This paper describes the broad vision that knowledge coupling tools imply for health care, and describes how these tools have been successfully integrated and are routinely used in everyday clinical practice. Finally, the paper concludes by identifying several implications of the wider use of these tools for patient empowerment and for democratizing health care.


Keywords: Health Care, Computer Technology, Clinical Decision Making, Knowledge Coupling, Patient Empowerment
Stream: Natural, Environmental and Health Sciences
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. Robert Weaver

Professor, Health Sciences, University of Ontario Institute of Technology
Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

Robert Weaver is a Sociologist and Professor of Health Sciences at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Professor Weaver has examined various approaches to computerized decision support, and the processes that affect the development, adoption, and implementation of computerized decision support systems. For several years he has studied the “knowledge coupling” approach that offers the potential to radically transform how medical knowledge is used, how practitioners are trained, how clinical decisions are made and, ultimately, who makes them. He is currently exploring how these tools are integrated into primary care practice and their implications for patient care and patient empowerment.

Ref: I08P0211