There were two interesting developments in the field of social networks for healthcare practitioners last week. The first was the publication of a paper in JAMA “Variation in Patient-Sharing Networks of Physicians Across the United States”. The second was the sale of Sermo Physician Network to WorldOne for an undisclosed price. Sermo had raised $40+m in venture capital prior to sale, making a bet that social networking for physicians could drive value to pharmaceutical and financial firms based on disclosing interactions between members of the network.
If physician behavior and prescribing activity are key to your healthcare business, I think it is important to understand the relationship and differences between these two events.
Sermo bet hard on the Facebook model – physicians would interact on social networks, share knowledge and insight, and third parties could benefit from getting access to those interactions concerning their products or services. Sermo had also begun expanding its revenue model by providing paid content and sponsored education programs to network members, trying to capture “digital” dollars from life science companies. Pharma companies are desperately trying to gain advantage through digital advertising campaigns to influence physician prescribing behaviors, and multi-channel marketing efforts including the development of web sites for branded medications.
One of the big stories at the Health 2.0 Conference in San Diego is that Sermo is partnering with Janssen Global Services (part of J&J) to create tools for doctors to help them move their patients through the health care system. It’s the first time Sermo has explicitly both added a mobile app and moved into the transactional end of its physician community members’ businesses. Sermo’s figured out that a significant portion of their referrals never result in an actual appointment. So they’re going to be working with Jannsen to help close that loop, and we can assume that there’ll be a series of physician and consumer-aimed services to come from the partnership. Sermo says to expect the first product by end of spring. While new entrants like Doximity are aiming at the same market, Sermo’s marketing reach and J&J’s muscle makes them a formidable competitor.
And if you’re at the Health 2.0 Conference in San Diego, Dan Palestrant, Sermo’s CEO will be making an appearance to explain a tad more!
As the careful THCB reader may have noted, we like to feature Daniel Palestrant (CEO of Sermo) and Jonathan Bush (CEO of athenahealth) relatively frequently because a) they’re both very entertaining and b) their companies are providing new types of services that aggregate both the opinions and the clinical activities of physicians. Given that physicians are very important in health care, and that I (and my Health 2.0 colleagues) think new clinical and business processes are a must, it’s well worth considering what physicians are thinking.
My impressions from observing what’s happening in Sermo is that physicians are grumpy. Grumpy with insurers, grumpy with the AMA, and grumpy with government. My sense is that about 2/3s of commenters on Sermo wish they can go to some kind of cash-only direct patient pay system, and the rest would want to go to some kind of protected salary system. Continue reading…
Today, as Congress returns to session, all 100 Senators will be listening to physicians on SERMO when they deliver the “US Physician’s Appeal” on Capitol Hill. Wasting no time, my physician colleagues and I, armed with the over 10,000 signatures will deliver the Appeal directly to lawmakers, requesting them to include us in national health reform strategy.
We are pledging our commitment to true healthcare reform focused on the real sources of spiraling, bureaucratic costs and by doing this on day one of Congress’ return, we are telling them that true healthcare reform will only succeed IF:
- Tort and malpractice laws are reformed;
- Billing is streamlined and pricing made transparent, ending systemic support of the AMA owned billing codes (CPT Codes);
- The insurance industry is reformed; and
- Payment systems are simplified so they align with the growing need for preventive medicine.Continue reading…
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
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.Continue reading…
Sermo’s Daniel Palestrant got on TV with Howard Dean. It was an amusing (and short) little debate which you can find here.
The best moment was at the start when Dean claimed that Sermo was just a poll. Palestrant pointed out that Dean spent last week explaining how reflective online communities were about what their members thought. Given how Dean rose to national prominence I’m a little surprised that he’s trashing the Internet!Continue reading…