REAL Knowledge Program

Let’s get REAL
Making important decisions is never easy. Making decisions that affect individuals, families, communities, and health systems is even more difficult, and that complexity increases when the environment is ever-changing, budgets are shrinking, and time is limited. Yet this is the landscape in which government and health-system decision-makers routinely operate. They need to make sound decisions quickly, while being conscious of budget pressures. This means they need to make decisions informed by current and comprehensive evidence. That’s when real impact happens.
The Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation (NSHRF) has created the REAL Knowledge Program to help decision-makers understand the current evidence around the complex issues they grapple with. REAL Knowledge is the foundation on which effective decisions are made. It accounts for change, context, and complexity. It’s effective, strategic, and forward looking. 
In a word, it’s REAL. 
REAL Knowledge is more than a catchy title. It’s a methodical approach to ensuring information is useful and pertinent. It’s about quality and appropriateness. It’s about understanding what the information is really saying and how it applies to the context in which decisions are made.
Let us spell it out for you.
Relevant. Provincial government policy-makers and health system decision-makers work in a world filled with urgent demands, budget constraints, evolving priorities, and compressed timelines. They need information that understands this world and addresses contemporary issues as they arise.
Excellent. Information cannot be relied upon simply because it exists. It needs to be accurate and credible. It needs to be based on a standard of excellence that involves the use of rigorous, yet appropriate research methods.  Excellent evidence is the key to REAL knowledge. 
Accessible. The government and health system landscape requires that REAL knowledge be accessible whether needed within the year or the hour. It also requires that it be written in a format meaningful to its audience. Knowledge must be understood to be effectively incorporated into decisions. 
Legitimate. Science does not stand alone. One study, one result, one finding is not sufficient to build insight and substantive understanding. A body of evidence built on high-quality research and framed within the context for which it is needed is important. It is also a cornerstone of the REAL knowledge process.
Once the REAL Knowledge process unfolds, decision-makers have greater insight, reliable data, and enhanced understanding. They have a strong, consistent foundation on which to make and implement decisions. 
It’s the REAL thing.
REAL Knowledge Hierarchy

Decision-makers are often faced with a deluge of knowledge from various sources and it can be difficult to determine where to access, appraise and apply these sources in decision-making. The REAL Knowledge Program works collaboratively with the Department of Health and Wellness, the District Health Authorities and health system organizations to assist decision-makers in developing tools that help them design processes to access, appraise and apply knowledge that comes from health research.

Each plan is customized to fit the needs of the decision maker and will ensure a strategic, rigorous and systematic approach to using evidence to inform decision-making processes. This planning will be guided by the NSHRF Hierarchy of Evidence to support decision-makers in identifying the various tools available for decisions within varying timeframes. The Hierarchy is illustrated below.