Sermo: Powerful Collaborative Tool, Place to Vent


If you are a doctor and you have not signed up for Sermo, you should do so.  What is Sermo?  It is a website founded by former surgery resident Daniel Palestrant, M.D.   Sermo is presently opened exclusively to physicians holding a U.S. medical license.  It is a discussion forum where physician-users can post topics, interact with peers, participate in surveys and otherwise engage in discourse with their colleagues.  Some of the interaction between peers concerning medical topics is very informative, sort of a virtual multidisciplinary Grand Rounds; a very powerful collaborative tool.

There is a lot of value to this interaction, but it is striking how negative the tone of many discussions can be.  These are almost exclusively related to the negative changes in the business of medicine, or related issues such as the medical malpractice system.  When the focus of discussion is not clinical medicine, but something related to the business side of medicine, some these posts can be utterly cringe-inducing. 

Why is there such venom?  It is not the fault of the contributors.  It appears to be related to the severe changes that have been gradually, but steadily, imposed upon the practice of medicine.  Ever-increasing bureaucracy, reimbursements that do not keep pace with the costs of running an office, and increased hassle in maintaining licenses and board certifications (such as the Maintenance of Certification program), are all combining to drive practitioners to vent their frustrations in formats such as Sermo.  The pressures on the healthcare system have reached a critical mass, and the system is beginning to change.  Physician dissatisfaction is a major feature in this, and it is getting worse.  The discussions on Sermo are being repeated on a smaller scale across America in thousands of backrooms, lounges, and conferences.  So far, this dissatisfaction hasn’t led to any major changes in the role of the physician in the healthcare system.  It does make for some interesting reading though.

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