Getting knowledge used in practice

Combine and Create

This section is about implementing in practice what you have found in your research. Implementation is the most difficult part and is considered by some a combination of art and science to overcome the barriers.  It involves tailoring your approaches (see the Create and Combine sections below) and a great deal of communication and coproduction (see the Share section).  

Key steps you need to consider to implement knowledge in action:

Below are some tools and techniques to help, which ones and how you combine them will depend on your context.

  1. Manage your findings to make it easier to combine knowledge that you have identified from a range of sources e.g. published material, local data and information, people
  2. Use the knowledge you have found by creating products to support decison making and make it easier for people to do the right thing everytime, e.g. checklists, pathways and apps
  3. Share knowledge with a range of people face to face and electronically - visit the Share section for more advice
Implementing knowledge in action

Barriers and enablers

There are many barriers and it is important to identify what these are locally to address them but generally the enablers include:

1.Engaging others

Involving members of the teams or groups and engaging them in the process of getting knowledge used in practice is key. In the Share section we have highlighted a few tools and techniques that you can use to share knowledge and also to capture ideas from the experiences in the local context.  

2.Making it easy to use the evidence

Creating prompts and embedding decision support tools in ways of working helps practitioners to use the best evidence to inform their practice.  These approaches or tools should be co-created by the people using them for maximum impact.

An essential enabler of Knowledge into Action is a digital knowledge infrastructure that supports practitioners and policy-makers to find, share and apply knowledge for example The Knowledge Network.

Why it is important

We know from the evidence that we need to do more to bridge the knowledge practice gap and that the routine implementation of best practice and guidance is challenging.  We also know there is a significant time lag to get research used in practice.

The Knowledge into Action review and implementation plan 2013-16 highlighted a process to support the Scottish Government's Quality Strategy. The final report of this plan illustrates examples of the elements of the process and how they have supported decision making and improvements.

Implementing knowledge in action is challenging as it requires combining sound evidence from research with the experience of the people involved and the local context. This relies on a digital infrastructure to access the content and the support of people with a knowledge brokering role to help and guide the workforce.

A range of people and techniques are available to support change in practice and implementation of improvement science within organisations.  More information about tools you can use are available on the Quality Improvment Zone

Improvement science is an emerging field and includes all aspects of research into the strategies in healthcare, systems, safety and policy which advance healthcare quality and safety. The QI Zone provides a structured approach to support individuals and teams to test, implement and spread sustainable improvement across a system.

Evidence of impact

Researching and evaluating the impact of K2A approaches helps to build the evidence base for knowledge into action methods, and to identify transferable approaches that can be used in different settings.