In today’s dynamic and demanding profession, staying ahead of the competition is a major challenge. Dental practices must react and respond to patients’ changing needs. One way to achieve this is through the exchange of information among peers. Knowledge sharing can create opportunities to maximise the team’s ability to meet the needs of patients, as well as helping to generate solutions and efficiencies that will give a practice its competitive advantage.
Exchanging useful information between two or more people is something most of us do every day – often without realising. For individual employees, knowledge sharing is talking to colleagues to help them get something done better, more quickly or more efficiently. By interacting and sharing information with others, an individual may enhance his or her capacity to define a situation or problem, and apply their knowledge so as to act and solve it. For a business, knowledge sharing is capturing, organising, reusing and transferring the vast and unique amount of information that resides within the organisation and making that data available to others in the business. Those that have successfully created a knowledge sharing culture quickly find that it becomes one of their most important assets, as well as providing the key to achieving the organisation’s vision and strategic goals.,
The literature on the subject has a long tradition in suggesting that work groups engaged in active knowledge sharing demonstrate enhanced individual and group performance. Furthermore, information sharing behaviours among group members positively contribute to the group’s innovative capacity. The exchange of knowledge between dental professionals therefore offers practices the potential for increased productivity through staff development. The latest information and thoughts can be shared on various topics of interest or previous experiences, giving practitioners the chance to seek out answers to questions that they may have.2
How can information be shared?
Most knowledge sharing occurs informally, in day-to-day, unstructured communication. For example, it might be through a discussion about a specific case or the exchange of ideas regarding a product or procedure. But with the increased improvements in information technology and integration of dental software, there has been a paradigm leap in the way dental professionals are able to share information.
Personal learning environments are rapidly evolving based on the use of social media that allows learners to create, organise and share content. Through cloud computing, information can be shared, including journal articles and abstracts. Critical analysis for group discussion can also be accessed easily and quickly through virtual learning spaces.
One of the main benefits of cloud computing is the ability for multi-site access. For example, clinical records can be gathered by one clinician for a case that requires multidisciplinary treatment, so that all the clinicians potentially involved can access the material and give their input towards the treatment plan and its completion. In addition, cloud computing offers security against loss of information by equipment theft or damage to practice facilities. There is also a reduced need for processing, power and memory of the computers being used to view the information along with potentially reduced back-up costs.4
The internet and social media provide further opportunities for dental professionals to directly connect with their peers. Individuals can network with others who have similar values, interests and roles, and easily share and discuss their experiences. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs and YouTube are just some of the powerful social media sites available that individuals can use to connect with other people in the dental field. Through the internet, professionals can share ideas, swap case reports, ask for advice, discuss recent innovations and take in industry news, as well as creating deeper and more meaningful connections with colleagues.4
One of the latest, dentistry specific online portals is The Exchange from Carestream Dental. This highly interactive and convenient online solution is designed specifically for its CS R4+ practice management software customers. Complementing the already extensive support available from the provider, The Exchange offers an online platform for all CS R4+ users to utilise. It enables professionals to speak directly to other users, facilitating the sharing of top tips, practical advice and experiences among colleagues.
With smartphones, iPads and many other such devices available at our fingertips, dentistry is stepping into the world of online communities and social networking, along with the rest of the world. Dental professionals can benefit immensely from innovative online tools to enhance their online presence, learn from others and exchange useful information and knowledge with peers.
For more information please contact Carestream Dental on
0800 169 9692 or visit www.carestreamdental.co.uk
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 Reid, F. (2003). Creating a knowledge-sharing culture among diverse business units. Employment Relations Today, 30 (3) 43-49.
 Li-Ying, J., Paunova, M., & Egerod, I. (2016). Knowledge sharing behaviour and intensive care nurse innovation: the moderating role of control of care quality. Journal of Nursing Management, 2-32.
 Pilling, M. (2011). Is your head in the clouds? Vital, 46-49.
 Bennadi, D., Thummala, N. R., & Sibyl, S. (2017). Dentistry in E-world. Journal of the Scientific Society, 44 (1), 2-6.