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Physician “education” from the news media

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The following is a guest post from Harold DeMonaco, MS, one of our expert editors on – and of that group – the one who has reviewed the most news stories over the past 6+ years.  The opinions stated are his own and not those of his employer.


We recently ran across a press release from that sent a shiver up my spine.  Sermo is a social networking website for physicians.  In order to join you must be a practicing physician.  Like any social network physicians trade information, stories, rants and the like with each other.  The site can also serve as an important method of transmitting information and learned comments within this exclusive club.  I have had the privilege of being allowed access and have used the site for some of my research.  The site is robust and the discussions are lively, entertaining and informative.

Like all of us, physicians want to make the most valuable use of their time.  Given the workload of most of my physician friends, time is a rare and precious commodity for them.  So, it is quite reasonable to want to have summaries of the most recent articles published in medical journals.  Journal Watch is one such subscription source.  There are indeed others but their availability is limited to subscription.  Journal Watch costs $149 for an annual subscription.  A freely available resource would seem very desirable.

What delivered the spine shiver was this announcement:

Starting today Sermo (, the largest online community exclusive to physicians, will be providing Sermo members curated, daily medical news across 30+ specialties to stay abreast of and discuss the latest developments in medicine. The new service is “powered by” HealthDay, the leading producer and syndicator of evidence-based health and medical news.

Sermo physicians actively discuss and debate topics in the news, from healthcare reform to new treatments and therapies. HealthDay’s Physician’s Briefing service will complement user-generated content and stimulate further conversation by bringing in timely and concise summaries from more than 75 peer-reviewed medical journals, over 55 medical conferences and all major government approvals and announcements. has a fairly sizable experience in reviewing the media capabilities in reporting health related stories.  A total of 1751 stories have been reviewed to date with an average score of 3.04 stars.  We have reviewed 165 stories from HealthDay.  Their average is 2.85 stars.  One could argue with our criteria and the sample size, but the numbers probably speak for themselves.  HealthDay has been a below-average performer based on our criteria.

It is unclear from the press release if the HealthDay resource in Sermo will be different than those generally available to the consumer or if it will be a specialized resource for physicians.  It will be interesting to see how the physician community of Sermo rates the quality of reporting by HealthDay in any case.


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Comments (2)

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Jon Michaeli

May 29, 2012 at 4:13 pm

I believe you are referencing HealthDay’s consumer health news service. Sermo is licensing HealthDay’s Physician’s Briefing news service, which is specifically written for physicians. According to my sources, you have never reviewed this news product.