Sermo, a company out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, has partnered with the American Medical Association (AMA) to create a forum that encourages doctors to swap ideas and information over the internet. While the company set this up as a tool for investment firms, the doctors seem to like the sense of community and ease of use. A doctor can post anonymously with such things as “I’ve got this one complicated case. Here’s the workup. Have you ever seen this before, and how would you manage it?” According to this article on MSNBC, within three hours you can have a “dozen responses from physicians in three or four different specialties. With all the burdens of practicing medicine today, there is not a lot of time and effort put into creating a physician-to-physician community. That is really something that Sermo has built.”
Doctors can sign up for this service free of charge. So, what pays the bills?? Sermo charges investment firms $100,000 to $500,000 a year to view the posts, giving the firms a heads up on side effects and other medical market trends. As of the date of this article, drug companies and drug representatives are not allowed access to the forum. Doctors sign up by sharing personal information and medical license numbers. Sermo then compares the information to available databases to avoid postings by non-doctors with “an axe to grind” or drug representatives trying to promote a certain drug.
While there are still some doctors and pharmaceutical companies that are skeptical of this service, so far it seems to be working both for the doctors involved and the investment companies involved.