Sermo, the physician online community, formally launched its
“Discuss on Sermo” initiative, by which journal publishers provide links to
articles and research and can facilitate discussions on them among their
readers and Sermo members.
Four publishers, including Nature Publishing Group, the
American Medical Association, Advanstar and Wiley-Blackwell, have signed on for
the exchange, which offers all parties a means of increasing their exposure to
physicians, and more are in talks with Sermo. Alex Frost, VP research
initiatives at Sermo, called it “a turnkey solution for those publishers
looking to have interactive content.” The feature promises, in turn, to help
Sermo build its 60,000-plus-strong membership.
“We recognized early on that 15%-20% of conversations on
Sermo related to current news or medical research,” said Frost. “We're being
responsive to how physicians are using this platform, so we built tools to
facilitate conversation around this.”
The publishers can initiate discussions by placing “Discuss
on Sermo” buttons on any article. In doing so, they drive their readers to
Sermo, which drives its users back to the title by linking to the text and
links separate conversations on it. Publishers can also access anonymized physician
discussion data for inclusion in their publications. Sermo members can still link
to articles in non-participating journals.
An early run of the feature involved a review published in
JAMA indicating excess mortality associated with the use of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs), which drew a
lot of news coverage. Physicians, however, weren't convinced – three quarters
of those participating in a Sermo discussion said they weren't sure the data
supported the claim.