According to Manhattan Research's Taking the Pulse v11.0, 2011 survey, 24% of U.S. physicians currently use or have expressed interest in using online communities or social networks created specifically for physicians. Sermo and QuantiaMD are two top-tier companies that are capitalizing on this interest.
"We call ourselves a physician community and not a network," Jon Michaeli, vice president of marketing and membership for Sermo, told InformationWeek Healthcare. Sermo insists on calling itself a community rather than a network because he said that a community evokes a sense of ownership and accountability to each other. He said that in medicine, when you're talking about clinical discussion and getting a colleague's input into real live patient cases, a community does that very well.
According to Michaeli, Sermo is the largest physician community, with almost 130,000 doctors. And that growth in membership is increasing Sermo's value. "It's the network effect. When more people use it, the value increases. It's efficient to do things on the Internet in a community like this that would be very difficult otherwise." For example, physicians in remote areas who aren't part of a large practice are isolated and often want to consult with their colleagues. With Sermo, they can do that and get responses within minutes. "At the end of the day, it gives them the opportunity to crowdsource, that's the key word," Michaeli said.