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September 01, 2007



This sounds interesting, but...

Can one really get truthful, good-quality information from social networking and other websites that allow anonymity (as Sermo does)?

I can't help but wonder how Sermo users would be able to distinguish genuine interest in a promising procedure or medication from an advertisement by a paid pharma/equipment "plant". It's quite common now for blogs and social networking sites to have users who are paid promoters of a product or company. I would expect pharma companies to already be on the site spreading the "good news" about their teriffic products.

How will physicians avoid being manipulated?


Oh the HMO's just have to be thrilled about the idea of people being able to collaborate and trade informatrion on the quality of healthcare!

Bill Kelly

Dear Erick,

I've recently become aware of your blog and really do appreciate the spotlight you are placing on Web 2.0 companies. However, I would also appreciate a more critical analysis of how unique some of these models actually are. For example, Sermo is hardly designed to improve physician-patient communication, it's designed to support better buy/sell decisions by investment analysts. There's nothing wrong with that - they say so explicitly on their Website. What no one seems to be talking about, however, is that this model was perfected years ago by the Gerson Lehrman Group. Moreover, Physicans Online had over 80,000 members nearly 12 years ago so the idea of bringing MDs online and monetizing them through research and advertising is hardly new.

My own company (a market research firm) formed The Science Advisory Board (http://www.scienceboard.net), a professional social network for life scientists in 1997 and now have more than 34,000 registered members. Today, we celebrates our ten-year anniversary online - clearly making us one of the most enduring communities on the Web.

We launched on September 12, 1997 with the goal of helping bridge the gap between the manufacturers and end-users of instruments, products and services used in advanced biological research and drug discovery. Today, our Website boasts tens of thousands of pages of user-generated content in the form of scientific white papers, blogs, and a discussion forum where scientists can seek and offer advice. Our scientists also provide expert advice to life science, pharma and biotech companies through surveys, focus groups and consultations.

A decade before anyone used the phrase 'Web 2.0', we were leveraging the Internet to deliver online professional networking services to life scientists and provide our clients with near real-time access to the collective knowledge of the research community.

We and other professional online communities serving different industries not only survived but prospered throughout the "dot-bomb" era and the ensuing years. My hat is off to companies like IT Toolbox and Sermo and all that they have, or may someday, accomplish. But their underlying business models are anything but new.


Bill Kelly
BioInformatics, LLC

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