Nesta is exploring the potential for developing a 'Knowledge Commons' in health - a dynamic, open system of knowledge that is accurate, relevant and accessible for anyone making a choice about their own or another's health.

Why is a health knowledge commons important?

Knowledge about what constitutes safe, effective and efficient healthcare is constantly evolving, and the internet has made information much more widely accessible (if not easily interpreted). One of the goals for any future health system is to ensure that the best available knowledge reaches decision-makers in real time. This applies whether decision-makers are doctors, nurses, patients or policymakers and whether knowledge is medical, clinical, social, or statistical. The key question is how this knowledge should best be organised - both to ensure the right flow of knowledge, to orchestrate in the most effective ways, and to make it useful.

The shift towards a culture of openness and transparency of information, advances in our ability to analyse big data and interpret complex information, to collaborate to solve problems and make new discoveries brings new opportunities in how we structure and access knowledge. This is beginning to change how we think about the knowledge system in health, from advances in clinical research methodologies and open science, the prospect of open patient records and an integrated record system and the development of new tools and technologies for people to record their own data and provide decision support.

What the research will cover

This project will address how combined, these trends create the opportunity for a health knowledge commons, with the means to interpret different degrees of certainty and standards of evidence whether as a patient trying to navigate a complex health information system, a clinician needing in providing healthcare to a diverse population or as families, peers or carers involved in another's care. Our goal is to set out the necessary steps for making this vision a reality over the next decade, and build an alliance of support and action to take this forward.

Get in touch

We know that this work builds on the efforts of many others, and that our work needs to build on this, and develop an alliance of support for a more effective health knowledge system. If you would like to be involved, please get in touch with Laura Bunt ([email protected]).