Table 1

Distinguishing knowledge from data

Patient dataClinical knowledge
Who it applies toA single patientEvery patient
Where it comes fromA single patientResearch on many patients
Forms it can takeNumbers, codes, text, images, sounds…Intuition (tacit knowledge), spoken word, written text, computer-based text, computer executable knowledge
Privacy issuesSignificant, even if ‘anonymised’Not applicable
Intellectual property issuesNot at individual patient levelSignificant
Scale of economic activityMajor global market in electronic patient records, etc.Small, fragmented market in computable knowledge and decision support systems
Potential for clinical errorExists, but implications usually modestLarge potential for safety issues resulting from incorrect or poorly implemented computable knowledge