Doctors’ Network Serves Everybody’s Interests

    September 11, 2007

Regular viewers of the show “House” will know that the title character’s support staff has (supposedly) left; previews for the new season have shown the brilliant doctor discussing diagnoses with a janitor.  But if the fictional character knew about a network called Sermo, he’d be able to find all the expert opinions he could want.

He’d also be able to avoid human interaction, but House’s psyche is probably a subject on which we shouldn’t focus.  Sermo, on the other hand, deserves our attention, and some investors felt that it also deserves $25 million – the online community for doctors raised that much in a recent round of funding.

The site’s homepage describes it as “the only online community where physicians around the nation exchange the latest medical insights with each other and improve patient outcomes – 24/7.”  It’s free for physicians, who are the only people allowed to join.

So, where’s that $25 million going?  We did, after all, describe its distributors as “investors,” not “philanthropists.”  VentureBeat’s David P. Hamilton writes, “[W]hat the company bills as a way to advance public health by harnessing this social knowledge is also an exercise in hard-edged capitalism.  For $100,000 to $500,000 a year, Wall Street firms are also welcome to listen into the discussion to benefit from this fresh source of medical intelligence.”

Interesting, no?  And so long as the doctors who join Sermo aren’t either borderline sociopaths (like House) or blatantly stupid, the concept may work quite well.