Publishers partner with Sermo for "world's largest journal club"

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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.  

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