Friday, October 21, 2005

Information to Knowledge to Wisdom

Many patients are confused about the difference between data, information, knowledge and wisdom - and so are many doctors ! Thus, your doctor may have more information than you do, but this does not necessarily mean that he is more knowledgeable - leave alone wiser than you. Moreover, he may have more information about the disease, but you know much more about yourself, which means you are the expert on your personal illness. How wise you are about dealing with your problem depends upon you ! While it's easy to acquire information, and even knowledge, wisdom is a different cup of tea !

Data itself is not very useful. Think of it as the “Know-nothing” stage.
We must understand what the data is ( for example, your blood sugar levels) and how to acquire it, which is where the medical expertise is valuable.

Data to Information
Once we can apply this data to our disease, the data becomes information. This is the “Know-what” stage. This is when the doctor makes a diagnosis, for example, by pattern recognition - by matching your symptoms with those described in a text book.

Information to Knowledge
Next, the information must be converted into knowledge by finding patterns within the information. Thus, charting your blood sugar levels in relation to time , meals and exercise makes it knowledge. This is the “Know-how” stage and helps you to gain insights into your illness and how it affects you. The knowledge can be generic and can be applied to most patients with a particular disease.

Knowledge to Wisdom
Wisdom arises when the knowledge is transformed into insight or principles. Once you understand the source of the patterns of your personal illness, you can learn to manage your own illness, with your doctor's help. This is the “Know-why” stage, and when you reach this stage, you become the true expert on your illness ! You can now share your wisdom with other patients - and your doctor, if he is wise enough to be willing to listen to you !

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