Monday, June 25, 2007

Sermo -In Search of Physician Search Engine Innovations

AMA and Sermo.Com Sign Deal

Q: What’s new these days?

A: Well, it’s summertime, and the news is slow, but I’m still on the hunt for innovations that might level the playing field for doctors and improve the system.

Q: Anything exciting?

A: Yes, I think so. I just became a member of Sermo is a Web 2.0 application that allows physicians to exchange interactive online views with each other about what’s going on out there. Sermo just signed a deal with the AMA to help doctors respond more quickly to the clinical and professional issues of the day.

Q: Doesn’t sound like a big deal to me. Who is this Sermo?

A: It’s a small 2-year old software company developed by Dr. Palestrant, a Cambridge-Mass general surgeon. Wall Street firms who use it pay $100,000 to $500,000 to track doctor trends, view doctor postings, and take doctor surveys. Sermo just entered into a partnership with the AMA to magnify the physician’s voice on medical issues of the day. Doctors will be paid $20 for each opinion of theirs that is posted.

Q: I still don’t see why this is big news.

A: I’ll bring you up to speed. Sermo is a “human powered search firm.” That means it features more than a simple mechanical algorithm ranking like Google. In their June 23 Sunday section on Innovation, “Bright Ideas,” the New York Times says human-powered sites brings humans into the search engine field.

The Times goes so far as to say The human touch may loosen Google’s grip on the search engine field. You may not be aware of it, but Google is the 800 pound gorilla in the search field. Google had $28 billion of cash in its pocket by the end of March, far outdistancing Yahoo and Microsoft who are mere pygmies in the search engine race.

Q: Maybe I’m dense, but why should doctors care what each other think? What makes Sermo so powerful for doctors?

A: It allows the nearly instantaneous collective feedback of thousands of physicians in small practices. It gives them a voice and a forum for exchanging ideas.

Besides, a lot of big time businesses care a lot about what doctors think. After all, they’re a $500 billion industry, and doctors’ pens may be the most single powerful medical instrument known to man.

Q: I’m still not impressed.

A: Maybe I should let Sermo explain. Here’s what they say in their press release.

Launched in September 2006, Sermo is already the largest online physician community, ever. Sermo’s Web-based platform provides a medium for physicians to aggregate observations from daily practice— rapidly and in large numbers — to challenge or corroborate each other’s opinions. This forum accelerates the discovery of emerging trends and provides new insights into medications, devices, and treatments.

Through Sermo, physicians exchange knowledge with each other the minute it is learned and gain potentially life saving insights from colleagues as they happen instead of waiting to read about them in conventional media sources.

Sermo harnesses the power of collective wisdom and enables physicians to discuss new clinical findings, report unusual events, and work together to improve patient care in a way never before possible. Through its unique business model, Sermo is free to physicians and has no advertising or promotion.

Based on a system of information arbitrage, Sermo allows health care organizations, financial services firms and industry analysts to access the community’s collective knowledge on a subscription basis.

Q: That explanation is a little long-winded for me. “Information arbitrage!” That’s a new one on me. You’ll have to do better than that.

A: OK, here goes.

•Think of Sermo as a collective edited blog.

•Think of it as an expression of the collective wisdom of the medical profession.

•Think of it as a doctor-type Google with the addition of human interaction, rather than just a mechanical algorithm.

•Think of it as a Wikopedia for doctors.

•Think of it as an algorithm with a heart and soul.

•Think of it as the embodiment of human interaction with machines.

•Think of it as giving doctors a hammer with which to hit the nail they want to hit.

•Think of it as converting doctors’ voices into action.

•Think of it as a tipping point for physicians where their collective experience on clinical and professional issues tips things in their favor and on the side of patients.

Q: You certainly have a way with metaphors, but sometimes you mix your metaphors too much and let them spin out of control

A: I know. Some people say I suffer from bouts of metaphorrhea. But thank you for the backhanded compliment anyway

No comments: