Differentiating tacit and explicit knowledge in the healthcare domain has off-late become an interesting study. Comprehending the differences between these types of knowledge is a significant step in the process of knowledge management.
Explicit knowledge is the kind of knowledge that can be codified. For example, studying the life cycle of a parasite, research on cancer cells, studying different types of medicines and treatments etc. are all examples of explicit knowledge that you gain over a period of time.
Tacit knowledge, on the other hand, is a noncodified form of knowledge. It is a form of expertize that lies subconsciously within human capability that can be enhanced by practice.
Tacit knowledge is cognitive in its essence.
For example, in the healthcare industry, tacit knowledge could be in the impulse of a doctor to spot that a patient is deteriorating beyond the level indicated by the vital signs alone whereas explicit knowledge helps in identifying the right medications to treat a problem.
Many diagnoses require an integration of both types of knowledge (tacit and explicit). For instance, in the field of Psychiatry, you come across patients who deal with aggression. Although as a psychiatrist, you are well-versed in the tricks that could be implemented to treat your patient, your ability to deploy these treatment/procedures is purely out of your judgment. In cases like these, both tacit and explicit knowledge play a prominent role.
On the other hand, there are also some medical practices like surgery that involve the integration of tacit and explicit knowledge from moment to moment.
Tacit and explicit knowledge, together, exist on a continuum: “what is happening in the brain may not be either entirely intuitive or explicit when action is taken.” Source
More specifically, explicit and tacit knowledge can be different in the healthcare domain in many fragments.
For instance, clues from the environment, especially the social environment, enables the brain to codify knowledge that was previously sub-conscious.
There are large advantages in moving knowledge from the tacit into the explicit domain.
For starters, this makes it less costly to share with others.
It enables us to quickly convey meaning to ourselves and others, by means of language, not trial and error. Humans are codifiers of knowledge.
Using explicit knowledge can help you detect and correct errors made subconsciously.
Tacit knowledge, on the other hand, is acquired by participating in social practices guided by more experienced people. Tacit knowledge is dispersed in organizations where individual bounded rationality is overcome through partitioning of tasks and channeling of information within hierarchies.
Today, these organizations are benefitted with the power of technology.
For instance, the advent of knowledge sharing portals like that of TacitKey is looking to make an impact in the life of healthcare professionals in order to help establish themselves as thought leaders in their domain.