Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sermo.com – A Physician Social Networking Innovation


Key words - innovation, physicians, social networking, online communities, virtual medical communities, adverse drug reactions, medical politics, physician sentiment


Summary of interview with Daniel Palestrante, MD, founder and CEO of Sermo.com


Preface
Daniel Palestrant, MD, a surgeon, founded Sermo, a Latin word meaning conversation, four years ago. It has grown to the largest physician networking site and now has 115,000 participating physicians. Fast Forward managine named Sermo as one of the five most innovative health care companies, along with Athenahealth, GE Cisco, Patientslikeme, and Kaiser Permanente. With athenohealth, semor recently released a “2010 Physicians Sentiment Index, a survey of 1000 physicians, revealed some of the following: 92% agree getting paid by insurers was more difficult, 83% agree this was case with Medicaid, 81% agree this was case with Medicaid, 59% agreed quality of car will decline over next 5 years, and 54% disagree more government involvement would help.

“Q: You have written the four necessary legs of reform, from the physicians’ point of view, are:

1) tort reform;

2) streamlined billing;

3) reform of health insurance;

4) Simplified billing with more billing for prevention.

"Q: Are these the four things you still emphasize?"

"A: Yes, I do. What’s so striking about health reform efforts to date is how totally they differ from what physicians recommend. Sermo has surveyed tens of thousands of physicians as to what we believe is necessary to improve care and reduce costs. Not one is even mentioned in reform bills. On tort reform the current bills are a step backward."

"Two trends have emerged.

First is antitrust warfare. Nancy Pelosi’s first priority is repeal of insurance companies’ antitrust protection. She is right that this exemption causes major problems because it allows monopoly pricing."

"Antitrust has become a lightning rod for health reform. It is showing how gamed the system is by entrenched parties, in this case the insurance companies and Medicare."

"A: The second trend I’m seeing accelerating is physicians, either by decision or desperation, opting out of Medicare. On Sermo, we see this trend exploding. Physicians are saying, I can no longer accept Medicare because I can’t afford it. They’re moving quickly and decisively to cash practice models"

"Q: In a sermon blog, you made this statement, “We must begin to withdraw from Medicare, Medicaid, and all contractual insurance.”

"A: Not only is this trend possible, it is inevitable. It is inevitable because of a fundamental economic tenet."

"Our society works because in the marketplace supply must match demand. As the demand for a product or service increases, the price of that product or service increases."

"What’s happened in the health care system is that intermediaries have been introduced into that supply-demand equation that creates artificial islands of profit. Our system has become like a communist economy, where you have central planning with profiteering at the margins."

"Insurance companies have seen their profits increase year after year, yet physician compensation has gone down year after year. The supply of physicians has been flat to down, yet compensation has decreased in the face of an aging population while the demand of physician services has gone up."

This interview will appear in full in www.modernmedicine.com

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