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FreePint BlogSharing the ‘content pie’ in healthcare

Monday, 28th February 2011 Please login top-right to be able to star items

By Joanna Ptolomey


Although there may be much hype and usage regarding FaceBook and Twitter they are not suitable formats for all users – but the technology is.

One of the trends that has captured the information product market this last year or so is the social networking aspect.  Flat bibliographic data suddenly seems to have an extra dimension and it is much easier to find, visualise and join networks of expertise.  Two products I have reviewed have both had this feature – and AIP UniPHY, and they were both focused towards particular groups of users.

Users still like to flock together, for example like doctors – have their own place to hang out, use their own language and have peer to peer discussions.  But they still want to have an informal social networking type experience and in some cases attracting large investment into their sharing platforms.

Also this type of information concentrated users share and experience has a very high re-use value – and that makes it a financially viable as a business model if you can funnel out content at the other end.

Sermo recently caught my eye, an online physician community in the US spanning 68 specialities and all 50 states.  It is billed as a ‘real time meeting place’ and as a place to harness the collective power of physician’s observations to improve patient care.

This US model seems to be working if the injected capital growth of 3.5 million US dollars is anything to go by.  The venture capital firm MMV Financial believe that the Sermo model is working well and delivery benefits to users – and with one in five US physicians already a member they believe their capital input can only improve outcomes. 

Of course the real trick to Sermo is the aggregated drilled down content that can be extracted about therapies, devices and treatment options.  And with a ready pharmaceutical industry as customers of content, as well as large healthcare institutions and government departments, it is a win win situation for many healthcare stakeholders.

In the UK there is a similar model to Sermo with  It has a similar raison d’etre  and outcome model.  Whether it is attracting the same capital funding - perhaps not.  But the lesson is that these business models work and already the venture capitalists are wading in.



About this item:

Joanna is a freelance information consultant and analyst. She started her career in information as a clinical librarian in the NHS before moving to global consultancy group DTZ. Prior to working in the information sector Joanna was a project planning engineer in the construction industry for 10 years.

She hopes to help people use information for assessing risk, making decisions and in governance. She is particularly interested in inequalities issues such as accessibility, information literacy and the information divide especially in the healthcare sector. She is the author of a chapter 'Digital divide and accessibility' in Government Information Management in the 21st Century. She is also the author of the book Taking charge of your career: a guide for library and information professionals.

You can follow Joanna on Twitter.

More articles by Joanna Ptolomey »

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