Physician Network vs. Physician Community: A Strategic Interview with WorldOne Interactive + Sermo #doctors20

May 10, 2013
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healthcare social media

In our Doctors 2.0 & You Social Media world, we know that the two main areas

healthcare social media

In our Doctors 2.0 & You Social Media world, we know that the two main areas of interest are patients…and…physicians.

And in the online physician space, we at Doctors 2.0 & You are fortunate to have the opportunity to query Jon Michaeli and Mike Marett about a well-known physician community indeed! WorldOne + Sermo will be presenting at Doctors 2.0 & You 2013.

Denise Silber: There are many physician communities. Will there be a shake-out? Who will last? Why?

First we need to distinguish between online physician networks and communities.  A network is first and foremost transactional and utilitarian in nature – a fair description for such a service in this industry being “LinkedIn for Healthcare” – and we certainly see companies in the U.S. aspiring to that vision. Sermo’s focus has been and will continue to be to develop a community, where doctors feel a common goal and purpose, and as a result, there is deep engagement and a shared sense of ownership and accountability. Social networks and communities are potentially synergistic, but we should be careful not to lump them into one bucket as both have their merits as standalone business models.

Those in our space acknowledge that the greatest challenges are scalability and relevancy. Aside from high acquisition costs, creating value for Physicians across a broad spectrum of specialties, acquiring knowledge of local healthcare systems and regulatory structures, and developing localized content make expansion and globalization difficult. We anticipate consolidation will facilitate growth and knowledge transfer of local market dynamics.

The companies that deliver the widest range of clinically relevant engagement opportunities, with the appropriately aligned incentive structures for Physicians, will win. We believe these include real-time collaboration and research, as well applications and tools that crowdsource knowledge and experience to reveal best practices and trends in the market.

DS: Which of your features are the stickiest for the Physicians?

Sermo’s mobile app features an exciting tool called iConsult, which enables the digital equivalent of a ‘curbside consult’ and helps MDs solve urgent patient cases through real-time cross-disciplinary discussion at the point of care in a matter of minutes. iConsult takes advantage of a smartphone’s internal camera, allowing physicians to attach a photo relevant to the patient’s condition (e.g. radiology scan, EKG, lab result) and conveniently attach it to the submission.

A second favorite amongst the community are Sermo Polls. Polls are a fantastic opportunity for MDs to weigh in and socialize their expertise on trending topics, while also gleaning insights from their peers as they respond. Our Community Managers often utilize the results to create posts that dive deeper into themes or subtopics and stimulate further discussion within the Community.

DS: Since you’ve acquired Sermo, what changes can we see?

With the acquisition of Sermo, we have expedited WorldOne’s evolution from a digital physician network involved predominantly in market research to a physician community on a multifaceted engagement platform. We have “migrated” a sample of WorldOne’s U.S. network to the Sermo platform with extremely high activation and engagement rates. Our awareness campaigns have also demonstrated there is significant pent up demand for Sermo amongst the global WorldOne network. Over the next few months as we complete this transition, Sermo will benefit from a larger membership (~220,000 U.S. physicians) and expanded index of posts, comments, votes, etc.  Our market research customers will see significantly higher list match percentages (already increased by 33% to date) and sponsorship clients will gain eyeballs and influence as Sermo membership passes 35% penetration in the U.S. With the $35 million in funding recently raised, we will innovate at a faster pace and roll out local communities globally.

DS: What led you to want to globalize the Sermo name? Did you use your own market research before making that decision?

We completed extensive market research using our own Intelligence solutions (i.e. MedLIVE) to survey Physicians around the world. The global interest in expanding Sermo is overwhelmingly positive. We also know that Sermo (Latin for conversation) has tremendous brand cache, and its reputation has traveled.   As “THE original MD-only Community,” we get contacted often by startups claiming to be “the Sermo of [Country Name].”

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