Physicians

Can Social Media Save Healthcare Reform?

Daniel Palestrant is the Founder & CEO of Sermo, the largest online physician community, and a friend of THCB’s from the Health 2.0 world. Lately Dan has been seen on cable TV representing the 110K+ Sermo members in the health reform debate—including a very public break-up with Sermo’s former partners at the AMA, which has endorsed the House 3200 bill. I’ve been asking Dan, if his members’ don’t want the House bill, what do they want? This is the piece he sent me in reply—Matthew Holt

Daniel Palestrant

Speaking at Fortune’s Brainstorm Technology Conference last month, longtime healthcare reform advocate, Howard Dean pointed out that the “dirty secret” of social media is that it can put a whole lot of politicians out of business because it allows the truth to bubble up. For the sake of healthcare reform, let’s hope he is right.

True healthcare reform has no chance of occurring with the current political topography. As the general public tries to make sense of the 1,000+ page version of the bill and President Obama distances himself from Howard Dean’s raison d’etre, the public option, two things are becoming increasingly clear:

1. There is very little actual healthcare reform going on.

2 The insurance companies look like they will win, no matter what, especially if you believe the cover of the most recent Business Week “The Health Insurers Have Already Won”.

At Sermo.com we seem to be seeing Governor Dean’s prediction come true.

More than 110,000 US physicians use the Sermo.com platform to fact check, problem solve, critique and learn from each other in real time. And as the most critical reform of our lives is making news all around us, Sermo is emerging as a clear and unified physicians’ voice in the healthcare debate. For example, within 36 hours of the first version of House reform bill coming out, the 21 members of the AMA board of trustees endorsed the bill. In the following week, 11,000 physicians logged into Sermo and voted on whether or not they support the bill. An astounding 94% stated that they do not. The physicians’ voice became the canary in the coal mine, and we’ve all seen what’s happened to the AMA’s support and support for the bill since then.

This week, social media takes another step forward as the physicians of the Sermo community announce the Physician Appeal, opening a channel for direct communication between physicians and policy makers, cutting out the influence of special interest groups. What doctors on Sermo.com want is simple, and it doesn’t take 1100 pages to say. We believe that creating real change means:

1. Reducing unnecessary tests and procedures through tort and malpractice reform,

2. Allowing doctors to spend more time taking care of patients by making billing more transparent and streamlined (creating an alternative to CPT codes)

3. Insurance reform to ensure that physicians are making medical decisions with their patients, not insurance company administrators.

4. Revising the methods used for calculating reimbursements so that there will be enough qualified physicians to provide patient care.

Perhaps most telling, not one of the things that physicians consistently rank as the most important steps to true healthcare reform are even mentioned in the current versions of the reform bill. If Governor Dean’s prediction is accurate, that the truth will bubble up through social media, well then it appears we have a long way to go in this reform process.

More on Sermo:

Livongo’s Post Ad Banner 728*90

39
Leave a Reply

39 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
27 Comment authors
John Ankerjesseann nomuraAnonymousJim Ellis Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
John Anker
Guest
John Anker

If people don’t have insurance, can’t or won’t pay, why do we feel obligated to save them?
Why not just let them die?
This is the traditional, conservative approach.
Given this alternative, I think a lot of people would find a way to finance their health bills or buy insurance.
By the way, the INSURANCE COMPANIES are the primary reason everything costs so much now. Current health costs are like the government paying $300.00 for a hammer.

jesse
Guest
jesse

i’m 22, i’m a photographer/graphic designer, i’m in debt from college, i can’t afford even an efficiency/studio apartment so i live in a friend’s basement, i can’t afford to keep my car insured and on the road, i’m in good health, why should i have to pay for your health care? To be honest, i think health insurance is a good thing to have, but if you cant afford to feed yourself from paycheck to paycheck, why should i have to pay for health care? shouldn’t i be spending my money paying for rent?, paying for Transportation? buying groceries? repaying… Read more »

ann nomura
Guest

Doctors talking to policy makers is great but in Oakland California young artists are looking at letting patient video conference with elected official from the waiting room. This project looks very powerful because it’s patients. It’s a public hospital, it doesn’t get more real.
http://whatruwaitingfor.com/blog/

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

So, let me get this straight. Less than 10% of Sermo’s membership thinks the healthcare bill is a bad idea, and this is “news” of some sort? What about the other 90% of Sermo’s members? Do they not care? Or do they log on once and never return?? This sort of “data” should be taken with a healthy grain of salt, because it is not scientific nor unbiased. It represents a clearly vocal minority of physicians, and says nothing about how doctors — in general — feel about the healthcare reform proposed by Congress. Daniel Palestrant is first and foremost… Read more »

Jim Ellis
Guest

see: http://www.HealthCare2009.singaporerental.com where the govt has taken 20 years to get it right and patients are a vital part of the Medical Team Management–people get better at affordable costs and professionals are paid correctly–not a perfect system, but gets a 3.9+ on a 4.0 grading scale.

Jim Ellis
Guest

If you wish to see the scorecard of foreign exchange holdings of a focused country so small and without natural resources and compare it to the vastness of the USA–it is a shock to the mental and business health of America. We need to get our professors teaching! We need to get our regulators working or decline to continue to be–Salary Takers— See:
http://singaporerental.com/topics/economics/

Jim Ellis
Guest

Ladies and Gentlemen: As a Californian(with family roots preceding 1860) I am concerned over the mess there and the mess in Wall Street,Main Street,Post Office,non stop spending by Dept of Defense. The American taxpayer is seeking leadership in every facet of life. I propose we get our Health lives in order now, but take the time to do it right. Singapore has taken 40 years to educate key professionals in the world’s greatest universities and labs. Systems have been developed that are cost effective and patients live better lives as they become part of their own medical management team. Health… Read more »

Nate
Guest
Nate

rae,
Medicare spends around $7,000 per member, of which $700 is fraud and abuse losses. Money wasted becuase Medicare does such a poor job administering claims. They spend another $350 to $560 on actual administration.
even if your 14% figure is correct that is only $980. How does paying more for single payor improve anything? How blindly are you trumpting liberal propoganda that you can’t even cut and paste it correctly but you have no idea why your saying what your saying. Have you given any thought at all to what you advocate?

Industry Insider
Guest
Industry Insider

According to Alexa the web traffic to Sermo is only 62.8% from the US, and if you look at the demographics it mostly represents medical residents and interns (25 to 34) not practicing Physicians and it is far from representative of the Physicians in practice
In fact, the American College of Physicians (160,000 US Internists the ones who provide the bulk of primary care to senior’s) “believes that America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (H.R. 3200) merits internists’ support, even as ACP continues to work for improvements throughout the legislative process”

rae
Guest
rae

whoopsies. 1 out of every 7 dollars goes to the insurance companies!

bev M.D.
Guest
bev M.D.

Matthew; You should ask Dr. Palestrant about the “physicians’ letter to the American public” which was much touted on Sermo as the ultimate physicians’ proposal for health care reform. It was supposedly signed by 10,000 physicians (including myself). This was supposed to be presented to the public months if not a year or more ago, after many previous months of discussion over its exact wording, etc. I have not seen evidence of this letter yet in any public media. I have not bothered to go back and find out what happened to it. The Sermo physicians’ inability to even get… Read more »

Matthew Holt
Guest

FYI Palestrant was a surgical resident (e.g WAS a licensed physician) who was unable to continue his training because of a back injury. Which is when he started Sermo. If Sermo has 110K registered members, that means that if 10,000 of them comment and have answered polls, it’s pretty typical of most online forums–for example THCB gets about 3-10,000 visits a day and about 30-100 comments, and of course many comments are from the regulars. And I think personal attacks on Palestrant and suggestions that Sermo is not real are ill conceived. So I think Sermo, while not being a… Read more »

ray
Guest
ray

I belong to Sermo and got into it’s network when they solicited me through medscape( another doctors online forum). Many on Sermo are not active members nor do they participate actively, About 5-10% poat 98% of their comments and postings. Specialists only care about their incomes. Tort reform is a total myth,why train 10 years and not use sound judgement, because easy to do al the things where you have no skin( neither doctor or consumer). Primary care is so ill treated that it is shocking how they did not revolt and break away from and start their own revolution.… Read more »

VRK
Guest
VRK

I echo Christopher’s sentiments that physicians, hospitals, and other providers have had a large hand in creating the expensive mess we are in. For decades, hospitals and physicians collected fee-for-service payments that led to the perverse, volume-based incentive system we have now. In the ’90s this led to managed care and utilization review, then a backlash against MCOs, then another 15 years of continued rapidly rising costs and governments gun-shy at attempting real reform. We physicians must become active in the reform process, not to improve our reimbursements and salaries and protect our own special interest, but because the country… Read more »