WorldOne Acquires Online Physician Network Sermo

Healthcare intelligence company WorldOne acquired Sermo for an undisclosed amount this week. Sermo is an online social network that, with about 130,000 registered physician members, is the largest of its kind in the United States.

WorldOne said the acquisition will help to expand WorldOne Interactive, its new division that’s meant to connect health care professionals globally.

“Sermo has proven that sustaining an active, engaged community can result in higher interest in and response to market research as well as new promotional opportunities,” CEO of WorldOne Peter Kirk said in a news release.

Sermo, a six-year-old company, has evolved over the years to make market research one of its main offerings as well as the backbone of its business model.

Physicians use Sermo by logging in and creating posts that explain difficult clinical situations that they’re facing. Then other doctors in the Sermo network weigh in with comments. The conversation isn’t just limited to specific patient cases. It also extends to a discussion of current events, including the latest on medical devices and pharmaceuticals.

Here, members of medical industry pay Sermo to find out what the physician community is saying. Companies can conduct focus groups or surveys to find out what doctors think about specific products. According to the press release, Sermo’s customers include eight of the top ten pharmaceutical companies in the world.

Looking at registration numbers alone, Sermo is the most successful physician network around. Rival online network Doximity, which launched a little more than a year ago, said that it reached the 50,000 member mark in April.

However, despite those numbers, some people question how popular social networks really are with doctors right now.

In a video from The Health Care Channel, Managing Director at Navimed Capital Dr. Bijan Salehizadeh was asked why he thinks Sermo has failed to take off as well as LinkedIn or Facebook.

“I think the reason a lot of these sites have not taken off is because physicians are really busy, they’re deluged with data, and they’re going to have an incremental couple of minutes a day to do something online,” Salehizadeh said. “It think it’s going to be very difficult ― it has shown to be very difficult ― to get them to actually go online and talk about the particular case or cases they saw that day.”

The video below shows Sermo founder Dr. Daniel Palestrant demoing Sermo’s interface in 2010.

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