A professional social networking site for NHS staff in Scotland has been unveiled by Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon.
Building on the NHS Scotland e-Library, the new Knowledge Network portal will include social networking features and a searchable database of 12m items. It is designed to serve NHS clinicians and managers, together with partners in the social and voluntary sectors.
The portal was developed for NHS Education for Scotland by Conscia, the web development firm owned by System C. The Knowledge Network is said to have 96,000 registered users.
The new network will give NHS Scotland communities, teams, and partner organisations information tools and shared content which they can use to create online knowledge services to meet their own needs. The revamped portal will be managed by NHS Education for Scotland.
NES programme director for knowledge services Dr Ann Wales said: "The new service provides even more comprehensive and user-friendly knowledge support for direct patient care, clinical practice, learning, workforce development and research.”
She added: "It goes beyond the traditional ‘library’ service of books and journals to support evidence-based practice, the sharing of knowledge and experience, and e-learning."
The Knowledge Network brings together material from databases such as the Cochrane Library, the Ovid databases, and the Barbour Index.
It includes access to magazines such as the BMJ, the Lancet and speciality-specific journals; to books such as the British National Formulary; and to guidelines and standards such as the NICE and SIGN guidelines.
Launching the Knowledge Network, Sturgeon said: "We know that a skilled, motivated and committed workforce, with access to the right knowledge, tools and materials is a key component to delivering the highest quality healthcare for the people of Scotland.
She added the Knowledge Network will provide staff with “access to a wealth of information which for the first time will be available online in the same place.”
The new network also provides communities, teams, and partner organisations with a suite of technology tools and shared content which they can use to create online knowledge services to meet their own needs.
Mark Buchner, director of Conscia, said: "One of our key challenges was to create an engaging user experience that worked across such a wide range of different audience groups.
"We achieved this through personalisation, good design and by making sure that we offer functions and features that people actually want to use."
NHS Education for Scotland is now working with Conscia to examine using the Knowledge Network directly to the point of care.