Sermo offers on-demand physician focus groups

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Sermo is offering clients on-demand physician focus groups. The physician online community, which claims 111,000 MDs, is launching Sermo Panels, a service aimed at ad agencies, PR shops and market research firms as well as its pharma industry clients.

“We're faster than anyone out there now, and they're getting deep feedback from our physicians,” said Greg Shenk, marketing director at Sermo. “You don't have to worry about travel or logistics, and it's an asynchronous discussion, so you don't have to have doctors here from 2 pm-5 pm.”

Participating physicians commit to putting a set amount of time into the discussion—usually 90 minutes over three to five days, said Shenk—and get an honoraria, typically $150 to $300 per panel. Sermo doesn't take a cut of that, instead charging a lump sum, typically around $16,000 per full panel, or $10,000 for the no-frills “express” version. That offering, aimed at smaller clients and cash-strapped agencies, leaves the analysis to the client.

Market researchers can query the focus groups in real-time about brand messaging and new strategies, and can also use the panels for qualifying product uptake after a launch, and tracking physician behavior and perception of a brand over time, among other things.

Sermo said the service is ideal for marketing intelligence, advisory boards, medical affairs support or utilization research.
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