Knowledge into action

Support the spread of good ideas and effective practice across organisations and through the system to maximise impact and outcomes for all. 

Spreading new ideas and methods quickly and at scale is a significant challenge across health and social care.

Turning knowledge into action can look very different. Action may involve taking additional time to gather extra information, develop more effective networks, working in a more focused way with local stakeholders, as well as testing new ways to apply changes.

The Knowledge into Action Toolkit is a resource which has been developed to help librarians and other knowledge brokers support the use of knowledge to inform practice.


Identify enablers and barriers to improvement

Consider how to turn new knowledge into action, and how your specific context may get in the way. A “Forcefield Analysis” is a useful tool to help teams identify and assess the enablers and barriers to change – more information about tools to help identify enablers and barriers is available on the NES QI Zone.


Use insights and deeper understanding of how improvements have been made to support scale-up and spread

The Learning System creates greater understanding of improvements as it highlights process changes as well as outcomes and impact. Applying these shared insights to a local context should reduce issues and speed up progress.

For more information about using insights to understand health and social care responses to COVID-19 and related public health measures please refer to the Health and Social Care Learning System.


Co-production of tools and resources to support 

There are many examples of teams and groups working together to co-design and co-produce tools and resources to support improvement. For example, Access QI which supports boards to use their quality improvement expertise to deliver sustainable improvements to waiting times, is continually learning about the QI tools and resources that can help make improvements to access and reduce waiting times.

They are also using a learning system approach to collate all of the learning into a single resource.


Make connections to national priorities, assess the most suitable spread mechanism and/or the specific changes or testing required

The purpose of Healthcare Improvement Scotland is to enable the people of Scotland to experience the best quality of health and social care with a work programme that supports the healthcare priorities of the Scottish Government. Effective Learning Systems must develop effective connections and garner expertise from across the whole organisation and beyond to support services to:

  • understand their high impact opportunities for improvement
  • design processes, care models and systems that will improve outcomes
  • implement changes that will lead to improvement; and
  • evaluate the impact of changes, embed change and spread learning


Accessible and categorised information for effective knowledge management

Transformation of services…. requires a strong focus on ensuring that decisions about health and care practice, service design, development and delivery are based on sound evidence, combined with sharing, reflecting and learning from experience, and using the knowledge gained in these ways.” (Knowledge into Action in Scotland’s Health and Social Services, NHS Education for Scotland.)

The effective spread of learning requires systems and processes that enable access to knowledge. Many boards and organisations have their own Knowledge Management teams who can offer tools and expertise to support in this area. The Health and Care system has developed an invaluable national resource to support effective knowledge management with almost every part of the system having the support of librarians and knowledge management brokers.

The Knowledge Network provides more guidance and tools to help individuals and teams find, share and use knowledge to support appropriate action.

A key benefit of effective learning systems will be what they can learn from each other. We encourage those involved in the development and delivery of learning systems to connect with others to share and learn about what works well; this should include sharing successes in relation to effective knowledge management.