AMA, Web-based Sermo sign deal

The partnership is designed to amplify the physician's voice -- and advocacy -- on clinical and professional issues.

By Bob Cook — Posted June 18, 2007

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In the eyes of Sermo founder Daniel Palestrant, MD, the American Medical Association has done something television networks, record companies and other established organizations have not done or will not do -- find a way to adapt themselves to so-called Web 2.0 applications that facilitate sharing and collaboration among Internet communities.

Dr. Palestrant's company, a rapidly growing physician message board, is the Web 2.0 partner in a recently signed partnership with the AMA that will allow the Association and its members board access, as well as give the AMA ability to pose questions and get feedback from Sermo physician posters.

"Engaging with Sermo's virtual community adds to the resources the AMA can call upon to rapidly assess and respond to the issues and concerns of physicians across the United States," said AMA Board of Trustees Chair Cecil B. Wilson, MD.

For Cambridge, Mass.-based Sermo, a two-year-old company, it's a chance to have organized medicine hear the voices of its 16,000 physician members (and growing at 500 to 1,000 per week). Meanwhile, Sermo hopes the move will build its credibility with Wall Street firms that pay it $100,000 to $500,000 per year to stay atop physician trends, view postings and take physician surveys. Physicians can get paid up to $20 for each highly ranked post they make.

Dr. Palestrant, a general surgeon, said listening to the Sermo community's desire to turn their voices into action was the impetus for the AMA deal. "As a company, we had to take a very rational perspective on that by saying we're a small software company, not an advocacy organization," Dr. Palestrant said. "Who is the best entity to turn voice into action? Without a doubt that's the AMA."

The deal includes the eventual creation of what the two sides called a "special home" on the site specifically designed for AMA physician members.

The deal also includes a "discuss on Sermo" link in AMA print and online publications, including American Medical News.

Also, the most hotly debated issues would be featured in a "Top Postings" column in the weekly AMA eVoice newsletter.

No dates have been released regarding when those developments would take place.

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