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7/30/2012
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Physician Social Media Platform Marries Data Mining Company

Healthcare data collection firm WorldOne buys Sermo to build a community of 350,000 U.S. doctors.

Healthcare Social Media: Time To Get On Board
Healthcare Social Media: Time To Get On Board
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With physician social network and crowdsourcing platform Sermo now in the hands of New York-based healthcare data collection company WorldOne, expect doctors to have more opportunities to earn money participating in market research.

WorldOne purchased Cambridge, Mass.-based Sermo and its community of 130,000 U.S. physicians July 19 for an undisclosed sum. The analytics firm adds its own worldwide network of 1.7 million healthcare professionals--including about 1 million physicians in 80 countries--to create what WorldOne is calling the largest global community of physicians online.

After accounting for duplicate membership, WorldOne now is boasting a network of more than 350,000 "verified" doctors in the United States alone, all of whom have opted in to receive notices about marketing surveys. "Sermo members will have access to a lot more opportunities to be engaged and earn money," Jonathan Michaeli, formerly Sermo's VP of marketing, who has taken on a related role at WorldOne, tells InformationWeek Healthcare. "The reach will go up by three times," in terms of marketing offers, he added.

Sermo already claimed relationships with hundreds of healthcare companies, including eight of the 10 largest pharmaceutical manufacturers. The acquisition means that physicians on Sermo "can access more product opportunities and scale," Michaeli said.

[ Is it time to re-engineer your clinical decision support system? See 10 Innovative Clinical Decision Support Programs. ]

"With the acquisition of Sermo and its leading discussion and crowdsourcing platform for physicians, WorldOne considerably expands its interactive and digital engagement capabilities," the merged company said in a statement.

In an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare, Michaeli described WorldOne as "very social," adding, "We have expanded very aggressively into digital marketing."

Among other features, WorldOne's year-old interactive division has a custom-built social health game called DocTANGO, creating a platform for what the company refers to as "competitive education." DocTANGO offers predictive social health games that allow physicians to compete online with peers around the country and around the world to learn about healthcare trends and products, with the promise of prizes.

WorldOne Interactive also features a point-of-learning messaging system and a bidirectional communication platform that delivers short, Twitter-type bits of information to engage physicians throughout the work day. Sermo is a physician community. This competitive environment is "very different from community," Michaeli said.

Still, Sermo is not going away. "The Sermo brand will remain very prominent," Michaeli said. While he is not sure yet if there will be cross-sharing of data between the two platforms, both approaches promote engagement of physicians and interaction among colleagues, according to Michaeli.

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